Task Force Streamlines Human Trafficking Notification Process to Better Assist Victims, Investigations

Attorney General Andy Beshear and Catholic Charities of Louisville recently released the 2017 Human Trafficking Task Force Reportthat focuses on Kentucky’s coordinated efforts to fight human trafficking.

The report highlights Kentucky’s new streamlined notification process that better assists in investigations and follow-up victim services for reported cases of human trafficking across the state.

The changes allow for a quicker response to incidents of suspected human trafficking in Kentucky and is one of numerous efforts outlined in the annual report of the Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force, of which Passport Health Plan is a member.

The report is the first overall look at the state’s coordinated efforts to fight human trafficking since Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville, co-chairs of the task force, received a federal grant in 2016. The grant was the first from the U.S Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Victims of Crime ever awarded to a Kentucky agency for human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a growing and gruesome crime in the Commonwealth,” Beshear said in a news release. “In order to combat it, we needed to streamline the information sharing protocols between our federal, state and local task force members to more efficiently respond to reports of human trafficking. Now, law enforcement can immediately investigate and advocates can immediately offer victim services.”


‘Pet therapy’ Can Help Many People Through the Healing Process, No Matter the Challenges

Insider Louisville LogoFor many hospital patients and residents of assisted-living facilities, medicine is not always what’s needed most. Sometimes, they just need something to smile about. And that’s where animal-assisted therapy can be a real benefit.

Animal-assisted therapy, also known as pet therapy, is recognized by those in the medical profession as a “growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Linda Laun saw the benefits of pet therapy first-hand when she was a little girl and her ailing grandmother snuck out of the hospital to see her dog, Patsy, in the parking lot. She said that even though her grandmother was in great pain, her face lit up at the sight of her dog.

“When she was interacting with Patsy, she had a tiny piece of tranquility. It made a huge difference in her life,” Laun said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “I recognized the impact dogs can have on people. When I had time, I got more involved and started a therapy program.”

Today, Laun heads Wonderful Animals Giving Support (WAGS) Pet Therapy of Kentucky, Inc., which utilizes the human-animal bond to bring smiles to the faces of those who are mentally, physically or emotionally challenged. To hear more from Laun, please click here. For more information about pet therapy, please click here.

Kentucky and Jefferson County Health Officials Encourage All Residents to Get Hepatitis A Vaccine

Because of the recent Hepatitis A outbreak, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is recommending everyone residing in Jefferson, Bullitt, Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd counties get vaccinated.

So far this year, 214 cases have been reported in the Jefferson County/Louisville area – the county usually has 1-3 cases per year. Meanwhile, Bullitt, Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd counties have each reported 5 or more cases, for a total 311 cases associated with the outbreak. One death has been reported.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable illness,” Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting DPH commissioner, said in a news release. “DPH recommends all children, ages 1 year through 18, receive the Hepatitis A vaccine, as well as adults who want to protect themselves from an acute hepatitis A infection. In these counties with local transmission of the hepatitis A virus, we recommend everyone be vaccinated per guidelines to help stop this outbreak.”

Dr. Sarah Moyer, Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness, is also encouraging all residents to take action.

“I am asking you to help us as we encourage everyone in our city to protect themselves and others by 1) practicing good hand washing and 2) getting vaccinated,” she said, adding that a person with hepatitis A can be contagious for up to two weeks before they ever show signs or symptoms of illness.

Since 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended children receive the hepatitis A vaccine series. Effective July 1, 2018, all Kentucky students in kindergarten through 12th grade must receive two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine to attend school or receive a provisional certificate of immunization, unless their parents claim an exemption.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever.

The disease often is transmitted when people do not wash their hands properly or do not have access to proper sanitation. Along with the vaccination, DPH recommends adults and children wash their hands often – particularly after using the restroom or before consuming food. Hand sanitizer should be used only when soap and water is unavailable.

The hepatitis A vaccine does not contain a live virus and is extremely effective, Dr. Moyer said. The vaccine is available at healthcare providers (check with your doctor), at Kroger pharmacies and Little Clinics, and at pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid. People are encouraged to call ahead to ensure that the provider has the vaccine and that there is no cost as long as the person has health insurance. Those who do not have insurance can go online to https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/hepatitis for locations offering the vaccine.


State Announces Roll Out Plan for all Counties’ PATH Requirements Under Kentucky HEALTH

Recently, the ​Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) started to notify Medicaid members who will be affected by Kentucky HEALTH and live in Northern Kentucky that they may need to complete 80 hours of PATH/Community Engagement activities each month to use their medical benefits, effective July 1.

In a follow-up, they have announced how the rollout will continue for all additional counties around the Commonwealth. As you can see in this map, the rest of the state will start their PATH activities on either October 1, November 1, or December 1, depending on what Workforce Investment Board (WIB) region they are in. (Note: Residents of the eight counties in Southeast Kentucky that are not shaded will not be required to complete PATH activities at this time.)

PATH, which stands for “Partnering to Advance Training and Health,” is the component of Kentucky HEALTH where some members need to participate in activities to keep their medical benefits. These activities can include looking for a job, volunteering, caregiving for an elderly family member, job training, participating in substance abuse treatment, enrolling in classes, or working, according to kentuckyhealth.ky.gov.

People enrolled in Kentucky HEALTH who have a PATH requirement will get more information 90 days before they are required to start reporting their PATH hours at www.citizenconnect.ky.gov.



Passport Joins American Red Cross to ‘Sound the Alarm’ and Install Free Smoke Alarms Around Kentucky

Passport is proud to be a Kentucky sponsor of the American Red Cross’s Sound the Alarm National Signature event, which will take place on April 28 in Lexington and Richmond and on May 12 in Louisville’s Portland and Russell neighborhoods.

Every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. Sadly, children and the elderly disproportionately lose their lives. The American Red Cross wants to improve the odds and save lives, and that’s why they launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014. So far, that adds up to more than 40 lives saved in Kentucky alone!

A critical part of the campaign is Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country. Together with fire departments and other community partners across the nation, Red Cross volunteers – including Passport employees and partners – will canvass at-risk neighborhoods, install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and provide fire prevention and safety education.

To sign up as a volunteer, please contact David Seymour at Volunteer Services for the Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter, at david.seymour@redcross.org or (502) 409-1017.


Passport Mails out Kentucky HEALTH Postcard to Members

KY Health NoticeFollowing up on the postcard that was produced and distributed by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Department for Medicaid Services (DMS), Passport has also produced a postcard for our members regarding Kentucky HEALTH, the new health and well-being program for certain low-income adults and their families.

The card discusses four simple things that all members can do now:

  1. Make sure your address is up-to-date with the Department for Medicaid Services (DMS). It’s very important that you’re getting your mail!
  2. Read over everything you get in the mail from DMS and Passport. You’ll be getting information about how Kentucky HEALTH may or may not affect you.
  3. Learn as much as you can about Kentucky HEALTH by visiting www.KentuckyHEALTH.ky.gov or www.benefind.ky.gov or www.passporthealthplan.com/together.
  4. Call us here at Passport at 1-800-578-0603. We’ll be happy to help answer your questions!

To see a PDF version of the postcard, please click here.



Medicaid Members Should Check the Mailbox for Important Information About Kentucky HEALTH

KY Health NoticeThe Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) has produced a postcard and is distributing it to households around Kentucky via mail and email that contain a current Medicaid member who may potentially be eligible for Kentucky HEALTH, the new health and well-being program for certain low-income adults and their families.

The announcement says:

You may have heard that Kentucky is changing the way Medicaid works. Kentucky HEALTH encourages and supports activities that lead to better health and well-being.
Please visit kentuckyhealth.ky.gov to see if you’re eligible for this new program that starts in 2018. If you are eligible, you can customize your own path to better health and success.
Also, you can start earning rewards as of January 2018!
Watch your mailbox! You will get more information in the mail before anything changes.

For more information, please go online to the kentuckyhealth.ky.gov  website, or you can call 1-855-459-6328 to find an in-person assister trained on Kentucky HEALTH in your area.

Also, any Kentucky Medicaid member who has recently moved should log in Benefind at benefind.ky.gov or call 1-855-306-8959 to update their mailing address so they do not miss any important information.


Stakeholder advisory forums planned by state officials to discuss Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid transformation

KY Health NoticeThe Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid Transformation Leadership Team has announced the scheduling of public stakeholder advisory forums, starting on March 8 and continuing monthly through the end of the year.

The purpose of these forums will be to provide an avenue for constructive feedback and solutions to help ensure a successful transition for Medicaid beneficiaries eligible for the new health and well-being program.

“Throughout the past year and half, we have benefitted greatly from meeting with stakeholders offering helpful insight and services,” Kristi Putnam, Program Manager of the Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid Transformation Project, said in a news release. “The ongoing engagement and participation of Kentucky HEALTH’s diverse and wide-ranging stakeholders is critical to the success of the program. With the recent federal approval, we are excited to expand this outreach, and look forward to building on existing strong relationships and engaging mutual commitment to improving the health and lives of Kentuckians.”

Putnam noted that these meetings will provide opportunities for the Kentucky HEALTH Project Team to provide updates on implementation activities, offer system demonstrations, engage citizens in system and process testing, discuss draft communications, answer questions about operationalizing specific policies, give notice of upcoming communications from the Commonwealth to beneficiaries, and address topics brought forth by forum participants. The forums will include representatives from the healthcare and workforce development community, as well as frontline state employees.

Interested parties can contact KYHealthTeam@KY.gov to RSVP and be included on future communications regarding these meetings. The schedule for the meetings – which will alternate between Frankfort and various cities around Kentucky – is as follows:

  • 1 p.m. EST on March 8 at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Auditorium, 200 Mero St, Frankfort, KY 40601
  • 1 p.m. EST on April 5 at the Kentucky Career Center, 600 West Cedar Street, Room 111, Louisville, KY  40202
  • 1 p.m. EST on May 3 at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Auditorium, 200 Mero St, Frankfort, KY 40601
  • 1 p.m. EST on June 7 at the Kentucky Career Center, 1324 Madison Ave., Covington, KY  41011
  • 1 p.m. EST on July 12 at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Auditorium, 200 Mero St, Frankfort, KY 40601
  • 1 p.m. CST on August 2 at the Green River Area Development District, 300 Gradd Way, Owensboro, KY  42301
  • 1 p.m. EST on September 6 at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Auditorium, 200 Mero St, Frankfort, KY 40601
  • 1 p.m. EST on October 4 at The Center for Rural Development Ballroom, 2292 US-27 #300, Somerset, KY 42501
  • 1 p.m. EST on November 1 at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Auditorium, 200 Mero St, Frankfort, KY 40601
  • 1 p.m. EST on December 6 at the Ashland Community and Technical College, LRC Building Room L275, Ashland, KY 41101

For more information about Kentucky HEALTH, please click here.


Public Health Department Says More Than 100 People Have Died During the Current Flu Epidemic

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), says that the state just topped 100 flu-related deaths from the flu epidemic, with at least four of those being pediatric cases.

“Tragically, the influenza virus has claimed the lives of 100 Kentuckians so far this season,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Howard, Acting DPH commissioner. “During this time of widespread flu activity, we want to remind people to avoid contact with others if you have influenza or an influenza-like illness.  If you are sick, seek care from your healthcare provider early. Lastly, take appropriate measures to protect yourself such as washing your hands with soap and water.”

This season’s H3N2 strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, not just for those in higher risk categories but to generally healthy Kentuckians as well.

For more information, please click here. Also, Kentucky reports weekly to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national flu surveillance system. That report is online and is updated each Friday before noon.