Appalachia Health News

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we'll from the statehouse, where a special session of the Legislature resumed Monday morning. Gov. Jim Justice met with House Democrats about his tax reform proposal for several hours on Monday.

We'll also hear a conversation between Appalachia Health News Coordinator Kara Lofton and Charleston geriatrician Todd Goldberg, who is preparing to leave the state.

NIHCM Foundation

A new study published this month by the National Institute of Health Care Management found that from 2006-2015, out-of-pocket spending on health care increased 24 percent while median personal income increased only 17 percent.

The study tracked health care spending across all sectors of the health care system.

Researchers found that health care costs are on the rise across the country and everyone is bearing the burden, not just patients, but also hospitals and insurance companies.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In 2015, the Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Outpatient Clinic was closed after staff found issues with air quality at the old facility. The clinic was later moved to temporary trailers. Now, almost two years later, a permanent veteran’s out-patient clinic has opened. The clinic will serve more than 1,200 veterans from Greenbrier, Monroe, Pocahontas, and Summers counties, along with Alleghany County, Virginia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If you live near a mining site – either old or active - is your health at risk? That’s what a committee from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine is trying to find out.

 

Medals, Medallions, Harpers Ferry
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

There’s a group based in Jefferson County, West Virginia focused not only on improving health and wellness but also on incorporating the local community and history into that health experience.

Trump Administration’s Addiction Crisis ‘Listening Tour’ Gets An Earful

May 19, 2017
HHS Sec. Tom Price speaking at a press conference at the state Capitol.
Ashton Marra / WVPB

Trump administration officials have been visiting parts of the country affected by the opioid addiction crisis, including the Ohio Valley region. The administration called it a “listening tour,” and they got an earful in events marked by protests and controversies.

courtesy Martinsburg VA Medical Center

West Virginia veterans earned over 30 medals last week at the national Golden Age Games. The competition is an athletic training program for veterans 55 years old or older and is designed to help veterans lose weight and become more physically fit.

About 800 veterans competed in the Golden Age Games competition in Biloxi, Mississippi May 7-11. Veterans from the Martinsburg VA Medical Center won medals in running, swimming, badminton, shot put and bicycling. Judi Roberts, from Martinsburg won first place in the discus competition.

Health, doctor, nurse, mask, breathing, health insurance
Dollar Photo Club

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act – a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. All three of West Virginia’s representatives supported the bill, but ACA supporters, including the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are concerned the bill will harm rural Americans.

Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs / http://www.clarksburg.va.gov/

Veterans who receive care from the Clarksburg VA medical center lead the nation in a program that prevents drug overdose deaths. The program distributes Naloxone rescue kits to veterans who are at risk of overdose. Many of the kits have been used by veterans to save civilians who may have otherwise overdosed from opioids.

Veterans returning from combat often struggle with chronic pain and/or mental illness, and many are taking multiple medications. When combined… or when alcohol or non-prescribed drugs are also taken, these drugs can lead to a deadly overdose.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Trump-backed healthcare bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Joe Manchin believes the bill has major issues and will likely move slowly through the U.S. Senate.

Heart Of The Matter: Needle Drug Use Brings Spike In Heart Infections

May 6, 2017
Alexandra Kanik / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley’s addiction crisis has brought another health problem, as rising numbers of needle drug users are contracting a serious form of heart infection called endocarditis. The rate of endocarditis doubled in the region over a decade, and many patients require repeated, expensive treatment and surgery as they return to drug use and once again become infected.

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

Apr 29, 2017

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.

Adobe Stock

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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