Dank Depot/Creative Commons

The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in limited ways. This is the furthest an effort to legalize any form of marijuana has ever gone.

Sixty-five lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, while 30 voted against it. It was the first time a medical marijuana bill passed a chamber of the General Assembly.

The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 136 last week, with a vote of 17 to 1. The bill has 51 cosponsors. It will head next to the Senate, which like the House is Republican-led.

Ryan Van Velzer

Louisville’s UPS air hub continues to operate flights to and from China while taking precautions to protect pilots and limit potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

To date, no UPS employees have contracted the respiratory illness and the World Health Organization says that packages from China are safe, said Mike Mangeot, UPS Spokesman.

“Certainly UPS is approaching the coronavirus with an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of our employees,” Mangeot said.

Lawmakers Renew Support for Insulin Price Bill

Feb 18, 2020

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, legislators and advocates on Tuesday urged passage of House Bill 12, which would limit how much insurers can charge for a month’s-worth of insulin medication. 

The bill would limit commercial health insurers to $100 in copay for a 30-day supply of insulin, and would forbid insurers from reducing or eliminating health coverage in response to the proposed law. It is one of a handful of bills filed this year that would try to cap insulin costs and pharmacy services.

“Something more must be done to help those suffering from diabetes so that they can afford the life-saving medication that they require,” Beshear said. “While the disease is not partisan, it is a health epidemic here in Kentucky.”

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About 50 people in Jefferson County are in isolation and are self-monitoring for symptoms of the novel coronavirus after returning from trips to mainland China, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

There are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky and no cases of anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case of the virus, said Rui Zhao, Louisville Metro communicable disease epidemiologist.

“Since we have had no evidence of anyone who has come from the province, the risk is extremely small for all individuals living in Kentucky right now,” Zhao said.

Ryland Barton

A bill that would legalize marijuana for medical use passed out of a Kentucky legislative committee on Wednesday.

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for several medical conditions and create a regulatory system for the growth, sale and use of marijuana products. The legislation would not allow the marijuana plant to be smoked.

Eric Crawford, an advocate for the bill, says he uses marijuana to ease painful symptoms he suffers as the result of a car accident more than twenty years ago.


Craig1Black / via Creative Commons

The price of insulin would be capped in Tennessee under a new bi-partisan plan. The state would join just two others that have tried to restrict what pharmaceutical companies can charge.

This legislation (HB 1931/SB 1939) makes it so all patients, whether they have insurance or not, pay no more than $100 a month for insulin. The state has more than 600,000 people with diabetes, and many rely on the life-saving drug to moderate their blood sugar.

Pharmaceutical companies have been widely criticized in recent years for raising the price of insulin, a common drug that’s been around for a century. And in recent months, some have responded to the populist anger by limiting their own prices. But Tennessee lawmakers want to take their own action.


Samantha Horton | Indiana Public Broadcasting

Farmers across the Midwest are facing tight profit margins and rising healthcare costs. And that means some hold off getting medical treatment or forgo health insurance altogether. In response, some state farm bureaus are trying to fill that gap by creating their own group health plan.

The sun is setting as Jacob Smoker does evening chores, feeding cattle on his family's farm in northern Indiana.

“We raise beef cattle primarily,” says Smoker, who chairs the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Young Ag and Professionals state group. “That goes to grocery stores, things like that, but then also we do row crops as well. Non-GMO corn, non-GMO soybeans, things for like tofu processing, as well as seed corn and wheat.”


Anne Rayner | VUMC

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is preparing to have fewer organs to transplant, starting next week. Academic medical centers banded together to slow down a new distribution plan for donated livers, but they’ve failed to convince a federal judge to intervene ahead of what could be a lengthy court battle.

The new distribution map, created by the United Network for Organ Sharing, is supposed to get livers to the most critical patients (within 500 nautical miles) rather than the closest by. It’s a years-long effort to even the playing field because patients in the Southeast and Midwest have an easier time getting a match at the moment, which has resulted in Vanderbilt having one of the busiest transplant centers in the nation.

direct_relief via Creative Commons

It’s just a handful of pediatricians in Tennessee responsible for making Tennessee one of the highest prescribers of antibiotics in the country. A new study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Tennessee Department of Health finds 2% of pediatricians account for 25% of the antibiotic prescriptions in the state.

According to the analysis, published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the physicians tend to be older. Most left medical school more than 20 years ago, meaning they likely received less training on the risk of antibiotic resistance and the emergence of superbugs.


Louisville Files Federal Lawsuit Against JUUL

Jan 16, 2020
Kyeland Jackson | WFPL

Louisville has filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc., the largest manufacturer of e-cigarette and vaping products.

Mayor Greg Fischer said the suit was filed Wednesday in California and joins more than 200 other cases. Fischer said Juul contributed to a surge of nicotine use and addiction, and the city’s lawsuit aims to prevent further harm.

“I’m proud of what we have done, but it’s clear we have to do more to protect the health of our children and the health of our community,” Fischer said. “We will fight to ensure that those who fuel this epidemic are part of ending it, and that they do everything possible to reverse the harm they’ve caused.”


Kentucky has partnered with a national texting service in order to help young people quit vaping.

The free service, “This Is Quitting,” started nationwide last year and launched a partnership with Kentucky’s Department for Public Health this December. It targets youth between the ages of 13 and 24 and provides up to nine weeks of coaching and supportive texts to quit vaping. Those who are not within the age range will be directed to other services.



Tennessee may soon have one of the most generous paid family leave policies in the country. Gov. Bill Lee made an executive order on Tuesday, offering new parents or an employee needing to care for a sick relative up to three months off with pay.

Like most employers, the state has to give people time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. But it doesn’t have to pay them while they’re gone, so most expectant mothers rely on saved-up sick time and vacation.

That’s what Sarah Tanksley, a spokesperson for TennCare, did when she was gave birth to twins in 2014.


Kenn W. Kiser,

A new study finds the closure of coal-fired power plants and transition to natural gas generation across the United States over a decade saved an estimated 26,610 lives due to a reduction in air pollution, with about a fifth of those avoided deaths in the Ohio Valley.

The coal-rich Ohio Valley states received outsized health benefits from the shift from coal to gas. The analysis found about 5,300 deaths were avoided in  Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. 

The study, published Monday in the Journal Nature Sustainability, examined the impact of the closure of 334 coal-fired units between 2005 and 2016. During that same time period, 612 new natural-gas-fired units were brought online.

Kyeland Jackson

Kentucky’s new attorney general made his first move on abortion litigation on Friday. 

Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined 20 other states in asking the Supreme Court to side with the state of Louisiana, which is being sued over a law that says doctors who provide abortions must have hospital admitting privileges.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March in the case challenging the Louisiana lawJune Medical Services, LLC v. Dr. Rebekah Gee. The law, which hasn’t gone into effect because of a court stay, would require doctors to practice at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where they perform an abortion.


Alexandra Kanik I Ohio Valley ReSource

The year: 2009. A Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama has just made history upon taking the presidential oath of office. The national economy is at a low point in the Great Recession. And the Pittsburgh Steelers are the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls.

Ten years later, as 2019 gives way to a new decade, the country is a radically different place, and the Ohio Valley is no exception.

The region’s economy improved, but more slowly and more modestly than for the nation as a whole. Coal, the Ohio Valley’s bedrock industry, declined sharply, bringing turmoil and uncertainty to the communities that had long depended on mining and burning coal for jobs. And an addiction crisis just coming into view in 2009 took a terrible toll on the region as it became a nationwide epidemic.

The Ohio Valley ReSource took a look at the trends that have shaped the region over the past ten years, and the data behind those trends in the Ohio Valley’s economy, environment and health.