Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

KET

Kentucky health officials are suggesting revisions to a proposed regulation that would have dramatically increased food safety inspection fees for some small food producers. 

Department officials said they received hundreds of public comments on the proposal with concerns about fee increases and they now plan to limit fees according to a producer’s income.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Resources officials spoke to the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture on Thursday about the planned rule revision, getting feedback from state lawmakers on concerns about the rule’s impact on small farmers.

KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration hired a physician to lead the state’s infectious disease office just months after the Department of Veterans Affairs dismissed that doctor for “egregious” medical misconduct.

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services hired Dr. John “Mel” Bennett in the same month that the VA’s Inspector General published a report highly critical of Bennett’s actions.

The VA’s IG report found that between Oct. 1, 2015, and Dec. 27, 2017, Bennett repeatedly entered the same blood pressure reading of 128/78 in order to bypass a clinical alert system. The alert required the doctor to enter additional information that involved follow-up work with the patients, such as blood tests and changes in medication.


Public Domain

Child advocates in Kentucky say a new federal law aims to help at-risk families and prevent youth from entering the foster care system.

While it doesn't provide any new funding, the Family First Prevention Services Act signed by President Donald Trump last year gives states more flexibility in how they spend federal money on child welfare.

Kentucky says it will invest more at the front-end of cases by supporting families with things such as parenting education, substance abuse resources, and mental health services. 

creative commons

A proposal by Kentucky health officials to ban tattooing over scars is drawing criticism from some doctors and tattoo artists.

As currently written, the proposal simply states that tattooing of scarred skin would be prohibited in Kentucky. The proposal does not include a reason behind the proposed ban.

In an emailed statement, Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesman Doug Hogan didn’t give a specific reason behind the change, only saying that the rules haven’t been updated for many years.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky is hoping to keep more kids at home with their families whenever possible — even when previously they might have been removed because of abuse or neglect. This year, the state has access to new state and federal funds to help support struggling parents, due to legislation passed in 2018 by both Congress and the Kentucky General Assembly. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is holding a summit Jan. 16 to plan for the reforms coming in 2019.

Currently in Kentucky and most other states, if child abuse is reported a state worker will investigate. Often the default response is to take the child out of the home and place him or her in foster care. But with the new reforms, Cabinet Deputy Secretary Kristi Putnam said that system is going to change.

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Governor Matt Bevin on Thursday appointed Adam Meier as secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which is responsible for running almost every government-involved health program in Kentucky.

Meier will replace Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, who stepped down earlier this year to run against Representative John Yarmuth in Louisville. The cabinet oversees the adoption system, foster care, child welfare, Medicaid, food assistance, hospital inspections, among others.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

State officials say too many people are getting disability benefits in Kentucky, citing a new state report that shows disability enrollment has far outpaced the state’s population growth over the last 35 years.

The report was prepared by Kentucky’s Disability Determination Services and echoes rhetoric used by Gov. Matt Bevin in his push to revamp the state’s Medicaid system. Bevin wants to require beneficiaries to pay small premiums and prove they’re working, volunteering or seeking a job.

Daviess County

Daviess County is expecting a record turnout on Election Day that could go as high as 70 percent of registered voters.

Daviess County’s chief election officer, Richard House, says the anticipated high voter turnout is due to a combination of national, state and local races that are generating a lot of interest.

“I think both sides are really polarized as far as the presidential race is concerned. We have several State House races here in Daviess County that are competitive. We’re going to have a new mayor. We’re going to have new city commissioners. So we have a lot of local interest in this race.”

Lots of candidates have stepped up to the plate in Daviess County. Five are running for mayor of Owensboro. Ten people are running for four seats on the Owensboro City Commission.

“We also have our first family court judge and there are four candidates running really competitive races,” said House. “That’s a non-partisan office and it’s the first time we’ve ever had a family court judge. So that’s been drawing a lot of attention.”

Expectations of high voter turnout are leading Daviess County to add 30 poll workers for the Nov. 8 election. The county is estimating that 50,000 voters could cast ballots on Election Day.

House said the voter turnout in previous presidential election years was about 68 percent in 2008 and 63 percent in 2012.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Thousands of Kentucky residents have two months to look for work or job training to keep their food stamp benefits.  Anya Weber of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says food stamp recipients have until April 1 to comply with the new requirements.  

"Able-bodied adults without dependents will need to meet a 20-hour work or training requirement," says Weber. "This is going to affect approximately 17,500 able-bodied adults in eight counties."

Those counties are Bullitt, Daviess, Fayette, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, McCracken and Warren.

New federal rules impacting the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, went into effect Jan. 1.  Recipients affected by the changes were given a three-month grace period to find work or job training.

Weber said the changes will affect nearly 900 people in Warren County, more than 700 people in Hardin County and more than 600 people in Daviess County.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Records Fight

Aug 14, 2014
ky.gov

The Kentucky Supreme Court has heard arguments in a records dispute between the Council on Developmental Disabilities and the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The advocacy group is asking to review the records of two disabled men who died in state care in 2009 shortly after being moved to new homes.

The Courier-Journal reports justices heard arguments on Wednesday in the case.

David Tachau, a Louisville attorney who represents the Council on Developmental Disabilities, argued the agency should have to release the records under the state's Open Records Act.

Cabinet attorney D. Brent Irvin argued that a different state law calls for records in such cases to be released only to government agencies with a legitimate interest in the case.

Lower courts have sided with the cabinet.

Tuesday was the inaugural day for Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange. 

The Kynect website went live at 12 a.m. Tuesday, and according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 24,000 people browsed to see what they might be eligible for and over 1,000 applications were processed by 9:30 a.m. 

As expected, there have been a some hiccups along the way.

"The high volume of traffic is causing a few technical glitches, but we have an IT command center fully staffed who are working diligently to iron out any issues.  People can continue to browse the site, but we encourage any visitors who experience problems to check back later to begin their application process," said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. 

"There will be a message on the site to provide an update as we work to ensure everything is running smoothly. This surge of early applications demonstrates the pent up demand for quality health coverage for many Kentuckians, who will be able to have that coverage beginning January 1, 2014, because of the ACA."

Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange can be accessed at kynect.ky.gov.

Budget cuts to a Kentucky government agency will mean less funding to help low-income families pay for child care. Citing a nearly $87 million budget shortfall, the Department of Community Based Services says it will also dramatically cut a program that pays relatives who are caring for children taken from their parents.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes says the cuts will begin as early as April 1. According to Haynes, the Department of Community Based Services has for years dealt with decreased funding by cutting back in areas that didn’t directly affect needy families. But she says that's now impossible.

The Courier-Journal reports the budget cuts come at a time of increased need throughout the Bluegrass State, with more than 11,000 children being taken care of by relatives who receive $300 a month to help cover expenses.

Because of the cuts, the Child Care Assistance Program in Kentucky will take no new applicants until June of 2014. That program gives financial help to low-income families who can’t afford child care while parents work.

The next public forum over Kentucky’s upcoming health insurance exchange is being held Friday in Owensboro. The federal healthcare overhaul calls on each state to create its own marketplaces in which residents can compare and purchase insurance plans, or sign up for Medicaid.