OWENSBORO, Ky. (8/22/13) – Making Kentucky “smoke-free,” greatly reducing if not ending childhood obesity and other children’s health cases, and working on ways to afford to encourage more of those eligible for Medicaid to enroll are three of the major priorities in the coming year for Kentucky Voices for Health, Executive Director Regan Hunt told the Green River Area Development District Board of Directors at the group’s meeting on Wednesday.
Hunt admitted the topic of smoking cessation is a “divisive issue” across the Commonwealth, but said putting an end to smoking is something her agency is committed to achieving.
“Smoking is a serious public health problem,” she said.
One way the group is working toward a state-wide smoking cessation policy is by encouraging people who have “first-hand experience with second-hand smoke” to share their stories. She said her father passed away after a battle with lung cancer, although he didn’t smoke cigarettes. She said he was around other family members who did.
Improving the health of Kentucky children – in areas ranging from child obesity to helping them get comprehensive mental, dental, and vision care – is another goal. She said Kentucky is “at the top of the heap” when it comes to coverage, but that the challenge is helping encourage families to take advantage of the resources available for pediatric care.
Of course, any discussion on the subject of health care can’t ignore the effect the Affordable Health Care Act is having on the way the rules and requirements for health insurance are changing, and Hunt’s presentation was no exception. She said regardless of the opinions about the Affordable Health Care Act (nicknamed “Obamacare” by those who oppose it), the net effect for Kentuckians would be a mostly positive one as it would allow many without health insurance to become eligible for expanded Medicare. As others have noted, Hunt pointed out the impact of the health care reform still isn’t known. Sections of the law have been delayed or changed since first enacted.
“This is a great time to be working on health policy in Kentucky,” Hunt said.
Hunt said people could learn more about the KVH initiatives and other health-related topics at kynect.ky.gov.
In other business, the GRADD Board of Directors reviewed several committee meetings’ minutes and approved a series of public projects across the GRADD region, the largest of which by far was a $2.1 million rehabilitation project in the city of Hartford. The funds, provided by a USDA community development block grant, will allow the city to replace almost 13,000 linear feet of eight-inch sewer lines and 1,500 linear feet of six-inch private service lines. The remaining six projects ranged in price from $387,000 to slightly more than $14,000.
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