More Kentucky children have health care coverage under Medicaid expansion, new report shows

KY Youth Advocates logoThe number of Kentucky children without health insurance fell by 27% over a one-year period, according to a new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA), helping the state move from 28th place to 15th place in state rankings on children’s health care coverage. Children in both urban and rural areas saw improvements in their uninsured rates.

“Once again, the benefits of establishing kynect and expanding health care coverage to more Kentuckians have been independently substantiated in a new report released this week by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “While most people would agree that a healthy child is a better, more productive student, the report found even greater returns in the long term. Children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college, making them healthier and more successful adults who are less likely to be reliant on government assistance. When we invest early and often in the health and well-being of our children, we are investing in the economic future of our Commonwealth. And the return we see on that investment is priceless.”

The report, which compared 2013 and 2014 Census data, estimated that the number of uninsured children in Kentucky declined from about 60,000 in 2013 to about 43,000 in 2014. The report authors attribute the gains to the strong Medicaid and KCHIP programs and improvements to Kentucky’s health coverage system, such as the creation of kynect.

“When children have health care coverage, they are able to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and show up for school ready to learn,” said Terry Brooks, KYA executive director. “It also means their families can afford to take them to the doctor when they are sick so they don’t wind up having to rely on more expensive hospital care if they get sicker.”

The report also notes that improvements to children’s coverage have been shown to provide a strong return on government investment. Research shows that children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college. They also had better health and economic success as adults making them less reliant on safety net programs.

Families who would like to enroll their children in health care coverage should call 1-855-459-6328 or visit Families can enroll their children in Medicaid or KCHIP at any time; open enrollment for private health plans begins on Sunday, November 1.

The full report can be found online by clicking here.


Eastern Kentucky communities can apply for grants of up to $250,000 through new SOAR fund

SOAR logoThe executive board of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) organization has created the  Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development (KARD) fund to support work being done by Eastern Kentucky communities on job creation and retention, health and wellness, entrepreneurship, broadband deployment, workforce training, leadership development, economic diversity, and much more.

“We’re excited to see what our communities are doing to impact important community challenges like job growth and leadership training,” Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR, said in a news release.  “Successful local initiatives can be replicated, and KARD grants are a good chance for the region to see what’s working.”

The state established KARD through a $2 million appropriation during the 2015 legislative session. SOAR is a homegrown movement in Eastern Kentucky that was created by Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers in 2013 to build on the strengths of the region and shore up its weaknesses. Passport Health Plan is a proud sponsor and partner in the SOAR initiative

“SOAR is designed to support locally-driven efforts to advance job development, workforce training, health access and other markers that enhance quality of life,” Governor Beshear said in the release.  “These KARD grants will give local programs a jump start toward making important community improvements.”

“The KARD fund gives SOAR the opportunity to support and invest in local projects that will create jobs and increase economic opportunities,” added Congressman Rogers. “This is a way for SOAR to help advance the vision of projects that will benefit the people of eastern Kentucky the most.”

Organizations can apply online at The first round of applications are due Dec. 18. The maximum grant amount is $250,000.


Gov. Beshear Announces $2.6 Million in Funding to Improve Screening Rates for Colon Cancer in Louisville, Appalachia

Passport logoGovernor Steve Beshear has announced that Kentucky will receive about $2.6 million in federal grant funding over five years to improve screening rates and health outcomes related to colon cancer across the state, with a focus on underserved populations in Louisville and Appalachia.

“We know that colon cancer is highly preventable with screening, and that early detection is key to better outcomes,” Gov. Beshear said in the news release. “This is one reason that even as our state’s uninsured rate has dropped we have worked to maintain funding through the Department for Public Health for screenings for low income and uninsured Kentuckians. With the expansion of Medicaid and federally qualified health plans resulting in more people insured under the Affordable Care Act through kynect, this new funding will complement our current targeted efforts to increase important colon cancer screenings.”

Passport has been a longtime supporter of the nonprofit Kentucky Cancer Foundation (KCF). In fact, Henry Altman, chairman of the Passport Board of Directors, has served on the KCF board, as well.

As part of this new grant award, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) will receive $529,428 annually for five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Kentucky will focus on improving screening rates and outcomes, both in terms of incidence and mortality rates, in two geographic regions that data show have large numbers of underserved, unscreened residents – Louisville and Appalachia.

In 2012, Gov. Beshear and the KCF announced a partnership to begin funding the screening initiative with KCF pledging $1 million over the biennium to match state funds. Gov. Beshear continued the $1 million matching grant for the project in 2014.

“Kentucky has transformed into the state with the broadest number of colon cancer screening options and the lowest barriers for colon cancer screening,” said Dr. Whitney Jones, founder of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project and co-founder of KCF. “The result is nation-leading colon cancer screening rate increases. We have created the platform and potential to improve screening rates, and, equally important, to attain the goal of screening 80 percent of our population by 2018.”


Kentucky to Receive Federal Funding to Increase Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant Women

beshearGovernor Steve Beshear announced recently that Kentucky will receive up to $3 million in federal grants over three years to provide expanded substance abuse treatment for opiate-dependent pregnant and postpartum women from the Bluegrass and Cumberland regions of the state.

“State leaders must do everything we can do to stop the pain drug abuse is having on Kentuckians and their families every single day, especially when it impacts mothers and their babies,” Gov. Beshear said in a news release. “Pregnant women who use heroin or other opiates during pregnancy have a significant risk of adverse outcomes for themselves and their babies. This important pilot project will allow us to improve access to treatment and support for pregnant women in two of the areas of our state hardest hit by substance abuse issues.”

Kentucky is one of 11 states selected by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive this new grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of an initiative to increase access to substance use disorder treatment services.

To learn more about the “Mommy Steps” program that Passport has for pregnant members, go online to


More Kentucky Residents on Medicaid Getting Preventive Health Services, Report Shows

kyhealthThe number of Kentuckians who received preventive health services has shot up since Medicaid expansion took effect in late 2013, says new data from the state Department of Medicaid Services (DMS) that was presented earlier this week during a meeting Wednesday of the oversight team for kyhealthnow, an initiative launched by Gov. Steve Beshear in early 2014.

In fact, “Kentuckians on Medicaid were far more likely to get cancer screenings, physicals and dental check-ups after the state expanded the government program for the poor and disabled through the Affordable Care Act,” according to an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“I have said from day one that giving every Kentuckian access to affordable quality health care coverage will help us tackle our ongoing abysmal health outcomes,” Gov. Beshear said in a release. “We are now seeing our citizens take even greater advantage of the opportunity to receive these life-changing screenings for cancers like breast and colon. No longer are their medical choices limited to emergency room or charity medical visits. As these preventive health services increase so does the compensation to our medical providers who are helping to improve the wellness of our Kentucky families. I’m excited about the enormous gains we’re seeing and even more excited about the long-term implications for our state’s health.”

To read the 2015 kyhealthnow Annual Report, click here.


Kentucky Health Report Shows Commonwealth Making Progress

According to a report from kyhealthnow, more Kentuckians have health insurance, are covered by smoke-free policy, can access physical activity resources, seek care for heart disease and cancer prevention, and get dental services since the launch of the program last year. The draft report, which was discussed during the kyhealthnow quarterly oversight team meeting in mid-March, shows Kentucky is moving in the right direction in meeting the ambitious and wide-ranging goals laid out in Gov. Beshear’s initiative. For more information, read this article  in The State Journal or go online to Gov. Beshear’s kyhealthnow website.


Passport Puts Focus on Dental Care During March

Preventive dental care is critical to good oral health and overall health. Since the Medicaid and uninsured population have traditionally been underserved in Kentucky and many have significant oral health needs, Passport is making it a special point this month to promote good oral hygiene for Medicaid members in Kentucky. The following excerpt from Gov. Beshear’s KyHealthNow website shows how our two initiatives align:

Kentucky’s dental problems have long been a source of ridicule, and have real and detrimental impacts on schoolchildren, the workforce and families. In fact, Kentucky ranks 41st in annual dental visits, 45th in the percentage of children with untreated dental decay (34.6%), and 47th in the percentage of adults 65+ missing 6 or more teeth (52.1%). Gov. Beshear proposes to tackle this problem with a number of strategies, including:

  • Increase pediatric dental visits by 25% by the end of 2015.
  • Partner with Managed Care Organizations to encourage increased utilization of dental services.
  • Create public-private partnerships to increase to 75% the proportion of students in grades 1-5 receiving twice yearly dental fluoride varnish application.
  • Increase by 25% the proportion of adults receiving fluoride varnish during an annual dental visit.
  • Increase by 25% the percentage of adults receiving medically indicated dental preventive and restorative services, including fillings and root canals, in accordance with evidence-based practices.
  • Partner with stakeholders to increase the number of dental practitioners in Kentucky by 25%.


‘Dashboard’ Provides Closer Look at Expanded Medicaid Population Around Kentucky

The new “Medicaid Dashboard gives county-by-county details on the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who signed up for Expanded Medicaid through kynect, including the preventive measures they received and the chronic conditions they were diagnosed with. It was created as part of the first-year report put together by Deloitte Consulting for Governor Beshear’s office. For more information, see this post at Kentucky Health News.