- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 18, 2014
2 new insurers interested in joining kynect

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - At least two new insurance companies say they want to sell policies on Kentucky’s state-run health exchange after more than 421,000 people signed up for health insurance during the first round of open enrollment.

Residents can go to the website, known as kynect, to sign up for the state’s Medicaid program or purchase discounted private health insurance plans, depending on their income. It is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, the health care legislation championed by President Barack Obama that has been fiercely opposed by others, including conservative Republicans, since the day it was passed.

While the federal health insurance exchange had many technical problems, Kentucky’s exchange ran smoothly. Obama even used it as an example in his State of the Union address.

But the options were limited on Kentucky’s exchange, as only two companies sold policies statewide. A third company, Louisville-based Humana, sold policies only in certain areas of Kentucky. One company - Kentucky Health Cooperative - sold 77 percent of the private insurance plans purchased on kynect.

But now Ohio-based CareSource and Florida-based WellCare have filed paperwork with state regulators indicating their interest in selling policies through kynect. Both companies provide Medicaid plans in Kentucky but have not sold on the individual market.

“We’re obviously pleased with additional competition. The market is good for consumers,” said Maggie Woods, director of health and life insurance for the state Department of Insurance.


Mother accused in death of 5-year-old boy in NY

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - A 26-year-old woman who documented her young son’s persistent illness on social media was charged Tuesday with killing him by poisoning him with sodium.

Lacey Spears of Scottsville, Kentucky, was indicted on charges of depraved murder and manslaughter in the death of 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears.

Depraved murder is a count often used in cases that suggest extreme recklessness rather than intentional killing. It carries the same maximum sentence, however - 25 years to life.

Spears, who at the time was living in Chestnut Ridge, brought her son to Nyack Hospital in Rockland County on Jan. 17, reporting he was having seizures. On Jan. 19, with no medical explanation, Garnett-Paul’s sodium levels rose to an extremely dangerous level. Spears was sharing her son’s hospital room and prosecutors believe the mother administered sodium through the boy’s stomach tube.

The boy was transferred to the Westchester Medical Center. The Westchester district attorney says doctors there suspected Spears was harming her son and called New York state children’s services, which launched an investigation.

Spears pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Tuesday and was being held without bail. A call to her lawyer, David Sachs, was not immediately returned.


Court to consider 5 gay marriage cases at once

CINCINNATI (AP) - A federal appeals court will hear arguments in gay marriage fights in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee in a single session, setting the stage for historic rulings in each state.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, scheduled arguments in five cases from the four states for Aug. 6. Though the cases are unique, each deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.

“I think the way the court’s approaching it is significant,” said Al Gerhardstein, a Cincinnati civil rights attorney who represents plaintiffs in two Ohio cases that will go before the appeals court. “They see the need to do some basic rulings on core principals cutting across all these state lines. It’s very exciting.”

Louisville attorney Dawn Elliott, who represents eight plaintiffs in the Kentucky case, said she and her co-counsel plan to make their arguments personal, focusing on the people affected by the ruling.

“Our plaintiffs are all planning on being there, because it’s harder to say no to somebody when you’re looking at them, to say, ‘No your marriage is not valid because you’re gay,’” said Elliott’s co-counsel, Shannon Fauver.

The 6th Circuit is the third federal appeals court to weigh recent challenges to state gay marriage bans, though the first to consider cases in several states at the same time. Arguments were held in the 4th Circuit in Virginia in May and the 10th Circuit in Denver in April. Rulings are expected soon.


Boone’s Trace Trail unveiled

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) - A modern map marking the trail taken by pioneer Daniel Boone into central Kentucky has been unveiled.

The Middlesboro Daily News (https://bit.ly/1pEOVmP) reports hundreds of Boone’s descendants, historians and community members gathered at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park on Saturday to see Boone’s Trace Trail revealed. The trail marks more than 120 miles in six counties as Boone traveled from Cumberland Gap to Clark County, where he built Fort Boonesborough.

The project’s first phase, which opened last week, featured a website and an app for a smartphone for people interested in visiting places on the trail.

“Boone’s spirit is here today and we are thankful for that. We’re now going to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the next leg of the second phase including the educational phase of this corridor,” said Boone Society President Sam Compton.

Bell County officials say they think it will boost tourism.

“There’s thousands of people that have an interest in this - genealogically, historically - and tourism can definitely benefit from this. The Trace has been here a long time and we’re going to start recognizing it as a tourist venue,” Bell County Tourism President Judy Barton said.

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