Richards Unveils Healthcare Initiatives
House Speaker Jody Richards today unveiled his plan to improve the health of all Kentuckians, by making local health departments an integral part of the healthcare delivery system, allowing greater access to low cost medications, and developing state-of-the-art rural health networks in underserved parts of the state, in addition to other initiatives.
"Poor health does more than exact a devastating toll on the individual," Richards said yesterday in making his announcement at a medical office in Henderson, Ky. "It wreaks havoc on our families, our communities and our economy. We must change the culture of acceptance that Kentuckians are destined to fall to the bottom of the list in heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and access to healthcare."
Specifically, the Richards plan:
l Emphasizes the expansion and promotion of local health departments as a primary care provider for Kentucky families. These departments can more cost effectively treat common childhood illnesses and administer preventative healthcare;
l Calls for allowing re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries through pharmacies, giving Kentuckians the opportunity to purchase the most commonly used medications at a great cost savings;
l Develops initiatives for improving the quality of healthcare in rural areas. This would be accomplished by expanding access to top-notch physicians and other healthcare professionals, and the latest health care technology; supporting revolving loan funds to finance primary health care and other heath care facilities in rural areas; creating rural health networks to facilitate multi-county cooperation in purchasing and accessing expensive healthcare technology and facilities; and modernizing Medicaid and develop e-health standards on a statewide basis to help meet the health care need of rural residents and the technology needs of rural health practitioners.
In addition, his rural health initiative calls for the development of community-based primary care systems to provide a safety net for the uninsured, particularly as regards oral and mental health, and expanding into rural areas programs directed toward tobacco-cessation, drug and alcohol abuse, and obesity;
l Expands the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program to insure more children and young adults with a dedicated portion of new tax revenues;
l Increases access to affordable long-term care insurance policies so seniors in need of nursing home care are not forced to bankrupt themselves and rely upon Medicaid; and
l Enhances early detection and treatment of diabetes and other chronic illnesses through coordinated outreach and data collection.