Beshear talks about health reform in Kentucky in his latest video

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

During his time in office, Gov. Steve Beshear has released weekly “About Kentucky” videos on his YouTube channel to inform Kentuckians about policy initiatives and legislative actions. As he prepares to leave office after eight years, he has done a series of videos about major elements of his administration; the most recent is about health.

Kentucky is well known for its poor health statistics, but Beshear says it is now also known for its aggressive embrace of federal health reform, with health experts often calling Kentucky a “national leader” in this area.

“Over the last eight years, we have taken a fundamental overhaul of core elements like how people access care, how that health care is delivered, who can access that care and what services they receive,” Beshear says. “This has been reform with a capital R.”

Because of health reform, more than half a million Kentuckians now have health coverage and the number of uninsured Kentuckians has been cut in half, Beshear said. Kentucky’s uninsured rate is 8.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census.

Emphasizing why improving the health of Kentuckians is so important, he says, “There is a direct line between poor health and almost every challenge Kentucky faces, whether that is poverty, unemployment, lags in education attainment, substance abuse or crime.”

The governor lists other reforms implemented under his administration: “wider use of electronic medical records, a new delivery model for Medicaid that focuses on better health outcomes, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility standards, creation of a state-run health-benefit exchange through which families can purchase private health insurance and expanded access to substance abuse and behavioral health treatments.”

First Lady Jane Beshear notes that because of these changes, “The number of people who are taking control of their health by getting cancer screenings, physicals and dental check-ups has sky-rocketed.”

The video also highlights her efforts to help Kentuckians get screened for cancer through the Horses & Hope program, which will expand next year to include a mobile cancer screening van that is equipped to screen for seven different cancers and will serve at risk populations throughout the state.

The governor noted that Kentucky has made “great progress” on the goals set forth by kyhealthnow, a broad initiative that targets seven major measurable health goals to improve the health status of Kentuckians by 2019, and said that the “impact on Kentuckians has been tremendous.”

Beshear said that he and his wife have heard “countless stories” from people who have benefited from these reforms through “improved health, better financial security and most of all hope for the first time in a while.”

Jane Beshear thanks the many people, organizations and agencies who have partnered with them in these efforts to improve the health of Kentuckians, and concludes, “But, there is a lot of work left to do.”

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