Appalachia Health News

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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.  

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the House of Delegates is passing bills increasing the penalties for drug trafficking.  Liz McCormick has that story and Ashton Marra talks with the state Superintendent of Schools about the challenges facing the state’s public school system. 

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

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll travel to Sugar Bottom Farm in Clay County West Virginia to meet Veteran Eric Grandon, the first veteran to go through the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture program.

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Despite best efforts, CPR is not always successful in a hospital. But the death of a patient after CPR can be really stressful for critical care nurses. New research tries to help identify nurses most at risk for postcode stress and post traumatic stress disorder with the hope of improving resiliency in medical providers.

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Medical debt is incredibly easy to accrue. All it takes is an accident or an unexpected bill tacked onto an expected procedure or an out-of-network charge you didn’t know was out-of-network. Nationally, almost 24 percent of nonelderly Americans have past-due medical debt, according to an Urban Institute report published this week.

State-to-state, the debt rates vary widely, from a low level of indebtedness in Hawaii at about 6 percent of the population, to Mississippi at about 37 percent. West Virginia's rate is about 33 percent.

Water Quality Bill Debated in House of Delegates

Mar 2, 2017
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Liz McCormick reports from the House of Delegates where lawmakers passed a bill yesterday that either attracts new industry or puts the state’s drinking water at risk and Ashton Marra talks with state Auditor J. B. McCuskey about the implementation the state’s new computer system.

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

The United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds sent a letter to retired miners warning them that their health benefits won’t continue after May 1, 2017, if Congress doesn’t act by the end of April. 

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Tuesday that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is partnering with First Choice Services, a local non-profit organization based in Charleston, to answer calls from West Virginians in times of need. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More than 100 people gathered outside The Culture Center in Charleston this weekend to ask representatives to save the Affordable Care Act or implement a replacement that doesn’t leave West Virginians without health coverage.

W.Va. Demonstrators Defend Affordable Care Act

Feb 27, 2017
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton covered a rally in Charleston where demonstrators are seeking to save the Affordable Care Act and we’ll have a report about the ACA and rural hospitals and health clinics.

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

After Obamacare: Rural Health Providers Nervous About Affordable Care Act Repeal

Feb 26, 2017
Photo Courtesy of Mountain Comprehensive Care

Mike Caudill runs Mountain Comprehensive Care Corporation in five eastern Kentucky counties. Many of his 30,000 patients gained insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. No one knows if or when those folks might lose coverage. But, Caudill said, the impact could be considerable.

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If you are overweight and struggling with pain, eating a Mediterranean diet could help, a new study suggests. 

Researchers at Ohio State University looked at the relationship between weight, inflammation and pain. They found that eating anti-inflammatory foods, including seafood, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, helped relieve pain, regardless of how heavy someone was. 

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New research out of Johns Hopkins University has found that more than forty percent of people receiving medication for opioid addiction were also given prescriptions for other opioid painkillers during the time of treatment.

The researchers looked at pharmacy claims for more than 38,000 new buprenorphine users who filled prescriptions between 2006 and 2013 in 11 states. Buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

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More than 22,000 West Virginians with substance use disorders have gained health coverage through Medicaid Expansion, according to a report released earlier this month in National Health Law Program. Medicaid Expansion was a voluntary provision of the Affordable Care Act.

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If you are an early riser, you may have a leg up on fighting weight gain and obesity. New research published this month in the journal Obesity found that as a group, “morning type” people eat earlier in the day and are choosing healthier foods overall than “evening type” people. For reference – morning types are those who are most alert and energetic in the morning while evening types are most alert and energetic later in the day. Other studies have found that eating earlier in the day is associated with weight loss and a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.

 

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Rural Appalachia has some of the highest cancer mortality rates in the country -- up to 36 percent higher than what is seen elsewhere. The culprit? That’s a multi-fold answer. Kara Lofton talked about cancer rates in Appalachia with freelance reporter Lyndsey Gilpin, who wrote a story addressing the discrepancy. Data journalism website FiveThirtyEight published the story earlier this month.

Moody's Downgrades W.Va. Bond Rating

Feb 22, 2017
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, cancer mortality rates are higher in rural Appalachia than in other parts of the country.  Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks into that and deputies in Monongalia County are using body cameras for the first time.  Anne Li will have the details.

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

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West Virginia University is offering tuition incentives in hopes of increasing the number of highly trained nurses in the state and beyond.

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Most Americans say they want to die at home. But without the right paperwork, many end up living out their final days in institutions or hospitals. The West Virginia e-Directive Registry is trying to change that.

The e-Directive Registry includes advanced directives, living wills, medical orders and Do Not Resuscitate cards. These documents help medical providers understand West Virginians’ end-of-life wishes, including where participants want to die and what kind of treatment they want in their last days of life. 

Jessica Lilly

The coal industry has done a lot for central Appalachia. It’s created jobs, and it’s helped many families afford college. Coal has also created a  very strong sense of pride. But as jobs in the coal industry have declined, so have the opportunities in Central  Appalachia. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we explore one of the legacies of of the industry: crumbling water infrastructure.

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Although Congress hasn't presented the American public with a clear replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act – the ideas proposed so far are unlikely to make coverage more affordable or allow everyone who has coverage now to keep it. Uncertainty surrounding the ACA is also making it difficult for health plans to stay in the marketplace because they don’t know how to price their plans for next year.

But as members of Congress left Washington today for their February recess, Republicans made it clear they still intend to repeal the ACA.

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If you have a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that you bought through the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces, you should know there is a change this year that might save you some money.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the latest news from the West Virginia Legislature and Appalachian Health News reporter Kara Lofton talks with president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield about a change in their hospital policies.

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

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Low birth weight is traditionally associated with physical problems such as difficulty breathing, developmental delays or hearing problems in children as they grow. But new research published in the journal Psychological Bulletin found that babies born with extremely low birth weights are at an increased risk for specific mental health problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, depression and shyness, beginning in childhood and extending at least into their 30s.

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Most Americans say they want to die at home when the time comes. But a new study suggests that the more obese someone is, the less likely they are to achieve that goal.

The study was published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine and looked at the records of more than 5,600 senior citizens taking part in a long-term health study. The researchers looked at how body mass index – a measure of obesity – impacted use of and access to end-of-life services like hospice. hospice provides support to people in their final months of life – usually in their own home.

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Studies have found that strengthening the quadriceps – or thigh muscles – may help prevent knee osteoarthritis. But a new study has found that how fast the quadricep muscle is able to generate force – for example pushing the leg out – may impact knee osteoarthritis too.

More than a third of West Virginian adults report experiencing arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Evzio Naloxone Auto-injector
Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Department of Health and Human Resources has begun a distributing naloxone statewide in hopes of preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication.

 

Born Addicted: The Race To Treat The Ohio Valley’s Drug-Affected Babies

Feb 4, 2017
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She asked to not be identified. And it’s understandable given the stigma attached to addiction. For this story, we’ll call her “Mary.”

Mary lives in eastern Kentucky and has struggled with an addiction that began with painkillers and progressed to heroin.

“As soon as I opened my eyes, I had to get it,” Mary said. “And even when I did get it, then I had to think of the next way that I was going to get.”

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A new study has found that couples in which both partners are obese may take more than 50 percent longer to become pregnant than couples who aren't obese.

Last week, doctors at Mon General Hospital performed a new hybrid procedure to correct irregular heartbeats – called atrial fibrillation – in a 71-year old patient. The surgery was the first of its kind performed in West Virginia.

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