Appalachia Health News

Bright Spots: Positive Outliers In a Region Plagued By Poor Health

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By most measures, health outcomes in the Ohio Valley region are not very good, with many parts of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia ranking near the bottom among states.

But a team of health researchers may have found a few places within the region that stand out. They see them as potential ‘bright spots’ -- places with some health measures better than expected for the region.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Taking a pill to ease chronic pain is easy, at least at first. But it comes with side effects – the most well-known of which is probably addiction. One alternative to opioids for chronic pain is physical therapy.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcast

Lawmakers from coal-mining states are pushing to extend health benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire at the end of April. Last December, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and other coal-state Democrats won a four-month extension that preserves benefits through April 30. With lawmakers returning to the Capitol following a two-week recess, Manchin says the time for extensions is over and that more than a partial fix is needed.

Steve Herber / Associated Press

West Virginia is prepared for public health emergencies. That’s according to a report out Thursday.

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A young mom – we’ll call her Patient A – is sitting on a couch holding her infant son at Karen’s Place, the newest in-patient treatment program for pregnant women in Louisa, Kentucky.

She smiles down at the healthy infant in her arms, then begins to talk about her older son – now 2½.

“He was actually born addicted,” she said.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton has a special story about how to treat pregnant women who are addicted to drugs.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators have approved a House bill that clarifies the state’s telemedicine laws, but also creates a new restriction for certain treatments.

House Bill 2509 makes it clear that doctors can treat certain diseases in minors or adults who are still enrolled in public school. 

http://www.historicmatewan.com/history

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin held a packed town hall for miners in Matewan today, assuring attendees that he would fight for health benefits and pensions at risk of running out of money by the end of April.

Union miners who put in 20 or more years were promised lifelong health benefits and pensions decades ago. But as coal companies have gone into bankruptcy, they've sought to shed liabilities, including paying into the pension and benefit funds.

Jessica Lilly

Coal mining has touched so many aspects of life in Appalachia. The coal industry has provided more than just jobs — it’s helped build towns, bridges and it’s even provided money for many Appalachians to go to college. We also have a deep cultural connection to coal and its history.

Still, there’s no denying the coal industry has changed the landscape of our mountains, and infected many miners with a deadly disease known as black lung.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the House of Delegates voted against a bill that would have eliminated tax credits for filmmakers and the Appalachian region voted overwhelming for Donald Trump for president, but now the President is facing push back over his plan to cut funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Vice President Mike Pence made several stops in West Virginia Saturday, March 25, including the West Virginia state Capitol and Foster Supply Company in Scott Depot, where he spoke to an audience of about 200 small business owners and their families.

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The House Republican health care proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act could have a profound impact on women’s health care coverage.

The ACA reformed several insurance provisions that affect women, including requiring coverage of no-cost birth control, not allowing insurance companies to charge women more than men and expanding coverage of pre-pregnancy care. Changes to these provisions would impact all women, but especially low-income women.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The number of coal mining jobs in Boone County has halved during the past two years. Drive through the county now, and signs of depression are becoming evident in shuttered storefronts and homes in increasing need of repair.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks at rural hospitals and how the new federal health care proposal will affect them and Ashton Marra talks with Tom Smith, the new Secretary of the state Department of Transportation.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community groups across the state held several town-hall style events focused on changes to America’s health care system during the past week. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., attended four of the events and was the only member of West Virginia’s congressional delegation to do so.

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On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.The CBO estimates that the proposed legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. Savings would come primarily from cutting funding to Medicaid and eliminating nongroup subsidies. A third of West Virginians are on Medicaid and such cuts could have big implications for the state.

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Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office released a report that analyzes the House of Representative's proposed replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The office projects that the new bill would leave 24 million people uninsured by 2026.

Such an increase could have big consequences for the more than 2 million people addicted to pain medication across the United States, including more than 200,000 in the Ohio Valley Region. 

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Two U.S. House committees have approved a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Critics of the law say it will raise premiums and cause millions to lose health coverage.

The House bill does, however, preserve an amendment written into the Affordable Care Act that makes it easier for coal miners with black lung disease to qualify for compensation benefits.

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If lawmakers don't approve Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal to increase taxes, representatives of the state's Department of Health and Human Resources says they will be forced to cut funding to programs. Bill Crouch is the new Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary, says some programs, like the Aged and Disabled Waiver Program, might be eliminated entirely.

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On Monday night, members of the U.S. House of Representatives released their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Possibly the biggest deal for West Virginia is that the new bill proposes changing the way that Medicaid is funded.

 

 

Medicaid is the joint state-federal insurance program that covers more than a third of West Virginians. Right now, the federal government matches state spending for Medicaid dollar for dollar. But under the proposed bill, that funding would change to a per-capita cap.  

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