Progress Being Made on Gov. Steve Beshear’s Health Goals for Kentucky, Report Says

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WKMS | JA’NEL JOHNSON | MARCH 19, 2015

More Kentuckians are insured, protected from second-hand smoke and making healthier lifestyle choices, according to a recently released preliminary report on Gov. Steve Beshear’s kyhealthnow initiative.

The initiative was created to achieve by 2019 seven major health goals on issues ranging from insurance rates to obesity.

The  Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services  set the goal of reducing the state’s uninsured rate to 5 percent or less. With the implementation of Kynect and the expansion of Medicaid, Kentucky’s uninsured rate is currently 9.8 percent.

Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, the state’s public health commissioner, said she’s optimistic that the goal will be reached.

“If we continue to do what we’re currently doing, we feel that we’ll get there because in a year or so we’ve taken it down to 9.8 percent from a baseline in 2013 of 20.4 percent,” she said.

Although, the proposed smoking ban bill passed the House earlier this year, its future looks grim. And so does the future of the proposed heroin bill.

But, Mayfield said, “the session is not over yet.”

She said there are numerous strategies to reducing the number of Kentuckians who smoke, and some are already in use and impacting thousands of people.

In September, Beshear signed an order to prohibit the use of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes on state-owned property and in state-owned vehicle. Legislation was also passed last year to ban the sell of e-cigarettes to minors.

Twenty-four Kentucky local governments have smoke-free ordinances, covering a total of 32.5 percent of the state’s population, according to the report.

Several of the goals to lower obesity center around targeting schools and students. Mayfield said the cabinet is working with schools to coordinate physical activity programs to reduce the rate of obesity.

“The younger you start with good health, the longer and easier it is to maintain it,” Mayfield said.

The initiative also aims to lower the number of drug overdoses in Kentucky by 25 percent.

Mayfield said the Cabinet would like to see a “Good Samaritan Rule” for people seeking overdose treatment.

She also said a pilot project has been launched to distribute naloxone rescue kits—which can be used to treat people who are overdosing—to hospitals in Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky. The kits are provided free of charge to every treated and discharged overdose victim.

“It is a very serious problem in Kentucky and it’s going to have to be handled by multiple agencies,” she said.

The report will be finalized once the 2015 General Assembly comes to a close.

Read the article online.