Finding a ‘medical home’ is an important step toward better health

Insider Louisville LogoThere are thousands of Kentuckians who have benefited from changes in health care policy, with the result being that many who never had a primary care physician now have the ability to see a doctor on a routine basis. They can also avoid a rush to the emergency room every time they’re sick.

However, the benefit of having access to health care is only valuable if people know how to put it to use. The reality for some people is that they don’t know what steps to take once they get health insurance. For many, one of the first steps is to choose a primary care physician and establish a “medical home” — which is a doctor who knows you, your family history and your lifestyle habits. Building this relationship can help keep people out of the emergency room and on a path of prevention from major illness.

“The way medicine should work is that patients should have a medical home, a place where people know them and they go to with some regularity,” says Dr. Steve Roszell, a family practice physician with Norton Healthcare, in a Passport-sponsored article in Insider Louisville. “I spend most of my day developing a good relationship and trust with patients so that when they come to me with a problem I can reassure them that I’m not worried about this, this is going to be fine, and because we know each other, why don’t we talk again next week.”

To read more, and to see a video highlighting this issue, please click here.

 

U.S. uninsured rate hits another record low, at just 8.8 percent without health insurance

NHIS LogoThe nation’s uninsured rate dipped slightly to 8.8 percent between January and September 2016, down from 9.1 percent the year before, according to the latest National Health Interview Survey data.

According to the report, in the first 9 months of 2016, 28.2 million people of all ages were uninsured at the time of interview, 20.4 million fewer than in 2010. Also, Hispanic adults saw the greatest gains, but remain biggest opportunity – only 24.7 percent of Hispanics were uninsured in the first nine months of 2016, down from more than 40 percent in 2013.

In Kentucky, just 6.5 person of people were uninsured at the time they were interviewed, while 46.7 percent said that they had public health plan coverage (such as Medicaid or Medicare) during the nine-month period and 57.1 percent said they had private health insurance coverage during that timeframe.

This report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) presents selected estimates of health insurance coverage for the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population based on data from the January-September 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), along with comparable estimates from previous calendar years. This report is updated quarterly and is part of the NHIS Early Release (ER) Program, which releases updated selected estimates that are available from the NHIS website.

 

“A Commitment to Compassion” luncheon sponsored by Passport honors six Louisville health care professionals

Insider Louisville LogoThe second annual “A Commitment to Compassion” luncheon was held on Tuesday, Feb. 7, to recognize and honor dedicated health care professionals who exemplify true compassion in the workplace.

The event, at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville, was co-sponsored by Passport Health Plan, Compassionate Louisville and Insider Louisville.

Jean West, Executive Director of Communications for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, served as emcee for the event, which honored six people who go above and beyond their job duties to extend needed consideration, kindness and compassion to patients, their colleagues and the broader community. They are:

  • Betty J. Adkins, Community Resource Development Manager at Louisville Metro Department of Health and Public Wellness
  • Lisa Benner, Transformation Coach at ChooseWell Communities
  • Sarah Daniel, Nurse Practitioner with MD2U
  • Mary Haynes, President and CEO of Nazareth Home
  • Diane Riff, Assistant Professor and Family Nurse Practitioner, UofL School of Nursing
  • Jonathan Sayat, M.D., Pediatrician and Associate Professor with UofL Physicians

In addition to recognizing these outstanding individuals, the luncheon honored one organization — Cedar Lake — for their active celebration of compassion. Cedar Lake is a private not-for-profit organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For more information, please click here.

 

Passport names Dr. Christian Furman and Douglas Winkelhake to Board of Directors

Passport has announced the appointments of Christian Furman, M.D., and Douglas A. Winkelhake to its Board of Directors, effective Feb. 2, 2017.

Dr. Furman has been a professor in the University of Louisville’s Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine since July 2013. She has served as Medical Director for the University’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging since 2016, as well as Administrative Director for the University’s Geriatric Evaluation & Treatment (GET) Program since 2010. She also holds the Margaret Dorward Smock Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine. She received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Miami, and her M.D. from the University of Louisville.

Mr. Winkelhake is President of the Hospital Division for Norton Healthcare. Since joining Norton Healthcare in 1997, he served in numerous roles, most recently as President of Norton Brownsboro Hospital and interim Executive Director of Norton Neuroscience Institute. He is a native of Palatine, Ill., near Chicago. He earned a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kentucky.

The Board includes membership from a variety of organizations and community leaders in both rural and urban areas. The Board is responsible for pursuing Passport’s goals and is accountable to the community for all the actions of and accountable to various regulatory agencies, including the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services (DMS), the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and others.

For more information, please click here.

 

Kentuckians with lower incomes are much more likely to try e-cigarettes, new poll shows

foundation for a healthy KYDespite warnings that e-cigarettes can be harmful, nearly 40 percent of Kentuckians age 18-45 have tried an e-cig, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). In fact, Kentuckians with lower incomes also were about 74 percent more likely to have tried vaping than those with higher incomes.

“Research suggests that e-cigs may be a gateway to using other forms of tobacco, and they can be just as harmful,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said in a news release. “They expose users to toxic chemicals, including nicotine, which long has been proven to be addictive and responsible for a wide range of health issues. E-cigs are simply not a safe alternative to smoking, especially for young adults and nonsmokers.”

KHIP also asked opinions about the safety of e-cigarettes. About three in 10 Kentucky adults thought e-cigs were safer than tobacco cigarettes, and 19 percent thought they were less safe. A much larger proportion – 45 percent – thought there was no difference in safety between the two.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report in December 2016 stating that the use of e-cigarettes by youth and young adults often leads to cigarette smoking, other tobacco use and nicotine addiction, with all the health dangers associated with nicotine addiction. The agency raised concerns that e-cig marketers have been using tactics that attract youth and young adults and said that the incidence of this age group trying e-cigs doubled from 2013 to 2014, the latest date for which data was available. The U.S. Surgeon General has called the rising use of e-cigarettes among young adults a “major public health problem.”

To see the full KHIP report on e-smoking, please click here.

 

Local healthcare professionals honored for compassionate care at Passport-sponsored ‘Compassionate Care’ event

Compassionate LouisvilleThe Louisville community is fortunate to have many healthcare professionals who are beacons of compassion. A luncheon in downtown Louisville on Tuesday, Feb. 7, aims to shine a light on these inspiring individuals who make a difference every day in the lives of others.

“A Commitment to Compassion” will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. 6th St., in Downtown Louisville. The event is co-sponsored by Passport Health Plan, Compassionate Louisville, and Insider Louisville.

“We are pleased to sponsor this event to honor healthcare professionals who go the extra mile by offering compassion and loving kindness to their patients,” said Jill Joseph Bell, Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Passport Health Plan. “Studies have proven that when healthcare providers practice compassion, their patients have a shorter recovery time and better overall health outcomes.”

For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, please click here.

 

Rural areas saw greatest increase in access to healthcare under Medicaid Expansion, according to Indiana University study

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act greatly increased access to health care for Americans, especially in rural areas, says an Indiana University study published in The Journal of Rural Health.

Researchers, who used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2011-15, found that expansion “increased the probability of Medicaid coverage for targeted populations in rural and urban areas, with a significantly greater increase in rural areas, but some of these gains were offset by reductions in individual purchased insurance among rural populations,” according to a Kentucky Health News article.

Medicaid covered almost 636,000 adult Kentuckians in the second quarter of this year, with the great majority of enrollees covered under Medicaid expansion and almost half of them young adults, according to a report done for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The report found that 493,199, or 78 percent, of the 635,747 adults covered by Medicaid in Kentucky were covered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the program to those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The remaining 142,548 were covered by traditional Medicaid.

IU researchers found that Medicaid expansion increased the probability that low-income people would have health coverage, and it increased Medicaid coverage more in rural areas than in cities. There was some evidence that in rural areas, the expansion was accompanied by some shifting from individually purchased insurance to Medicaid.

 

It’s time to ‘Go Red for Women’ and fight heart disease

Insider Louisville LogoLet’s start with some good news: The fight against heart disease, the number one killer of women, is producing positive results.

Since 2004, when the national Go Red for Women organization began educating women about risk factors, 34 percent fewer women are dying of heart disease. That’s 300 women per day.

Jane Merman, Kentucky’s Go Red for Women Director, has seen the improvement during 14 years in her position.

“For many years it was thought of as a man’s disease,” Merman says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “But more women actually die of heart disease than men and have since 1984. The good news is that 80 percent of the time, it can be prevented if we make the right choices when it comes to our lifestyle. We can’t control family history and our age, but we can control how we live our lives and we can know our numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels.

“If things are not right, we can do something about it, either through lifestyle or with medication.”

Go Red for Women, a part of the American Heart Association, organizes four major annual events — Wear Red Day on Feb. 3, the annual Heart Ball in February, a luncheon in May, and a walk in September. Kicking off the campaign with the annual Wear Red Day, the organization hopes seeing so many people wearing red will help spark conversations and action to change unhealthy lifestyles.

For more information, including a special video all about the Go Red for Women movement in Kentucky, please click here.

 

Passport partners with American Heart Association to help people control their high blood pressure

Go Red for Women LogoAbout 1 in 3 Americans live with high blood pressure, which comes to nearly 80 million people. Of those with high blood pressure, about half do not have it controlled, which increases risks for stroke and heart attack.

If you or someone you know has high blood pressure, don’t panic – the American Heart Association and Passport Health Plan are here to help. Between American Heart Month (February) and American Stroke Month (May), we will be cohosting a series of Facebook Live sessions – hosted by Charla Young – where you can learn all about the ways to live a heart-healthy lifestyle through the “Check. Change. Control.” program.

The first session, “Understanding Blood Pressure is Why,” will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31. Additional sessions will occur in March (“Eat Better”), April (“Get Active”), and May (“Lose Weight”) at dates still to be determined.

Participants will learn valuable information and then be asked to report 2 blood pressure screenings each month through the American Heart Association’s online tracker.

To take part in these sessions, click here to join the Facebook “Power to Exhale” group, hosted by Charla, or send an email to Jane Merman of the American Heart Association at Jane.Merman@heart.org.

 

Kentucky officials raise flu level to ‘widespread’ for the state

Kentucky Unbridled Spirit logoThe Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), which is part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), has raised the flu level in the state from “regional” to “widespread,” which is the highest level of flu activity, indicating increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.

“With widespread flu activity reported in Kentucky, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot”, DPH Commissioner Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., said in a news release. “We urge anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with local health departments or other providers.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals six months of age and older. However, the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used because it has been shown to be ineffective.

People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

  • Children age 6 months through 59 months
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
  • People age 50 or older
  • People with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater)
  • People age 6 months and older with chronic health problems
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children younger than age 5
  • Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for complications from the flu
  • Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient and outpatient-care settings, medical emergency-response workers (e.g., paramedics and emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term care facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions who will have contact with patients

“You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick,” concluded CHFS Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Gilsson.

For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov.