- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015
Report: Ky. hospitals lose money under federal health law

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid meant an extra 400,000 people could have health insurance. But a new report says it also meant up to 7,700 hospital jobs would disappear.

The Kentucky Hospital Association said the state’s hospitals have cut their workforce by 10 percent since 2013 as they prepare for an estimated $7 billion in federal cuts by 2024 to help pay for the federal Affordable Care Act. In a survey, the consulting firm Dobson/DaVanzo hired by the association found 109 of the state’s 127 hospitals reported job losses of more than 7,700 through layoffs and attrition. The association estimates those job losses removes $208 million from local spending on goods and services and another $31 million from state income and sales tax collections that pay for government services.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who made the decision to expand Medicaid in Kentucky, noted that the 400,000 extra people on Medicaid meant an extra $506 million for Kentucky hospitals that has “blunted the impact of other fiscal pressures on hospitals.” The report says that is likely the most money hospitals are going to get and they can expect nothing but reductions in the future.

“We take issue with picking one year and … saying everything is great based on one year,” Kentucky Hospital Association Vice President Nancy Galvagni said. “When you look at the cuts under the (Affordable Care Act), they ramp up.”

The report notes that Medicaid only pays 82 percent of how much it actually costs hospitals to treat a patient. And under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals will get less money from the government to compensate them for providing free care to people who can’t afford it.

The report seems to contradict a study Beshear touted earlier this year from Deloitte Consulting and the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute that showed Kentucky had added 12,000 jobs because of the Medicaid expansion. But that study included all segments of the health care industry, not just hospitals.

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Appeals court upholds former priest’s sex abuse conviction

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former Roman Catholic priest serving a prison sentence for sexual abuse has lost an appeal of his conviction.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals this week upheld James Schook’s conviction on three counts of sodomy and one count of indecent or immoral practices. The charges stemmed from abuse suffered by a teenage boy in the 1970s.

Schook also lost a bid for an early release through shock probation in December. He had also sought several delays to his criminal trial because he is battling terminal skin cancer.

Last week, the victim in the criminal case and another man sued Schook in civil court, though the allegations were sealed by a judge.

Schook is serving a 15-year sentence at the Kentucky State Reformatory.

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Archaeologists unearth artifacts dating back 8,000 years

CANTON, Ky. (AP) - Hundreds of artifacts, some dating back almost 8,000 years, have been discovered at the construction site of the new Lake Barkley bridge in Canton.

Members of the University of Kentucky Program for Archaeological Research have been excavating the site for six months. They said some of the artifacts, most of which are stone tools, are associated with early Native Americans who lived in the area between 8,000 and 6,000 B.C.

Project archaeologist Michael Loughlin said they have found an unusually high volume of items from the site, especially because people were largely nomadic during that time.

“The diversity of tools we’ve found suggest that what we’re dealing with is not just something like a hunting camp, but a larger-scale occupation that was intermittently used over a period of several centuries,” Loughlin said.

He said the artifacts recovered will provide information about how people lived during that time and what they did.

“We have an opportunity to add to what has been a fairly limited understanding of these groups,” Louglin said.

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3 vying for GOP nomination for Kentucky treasurer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Two Republicans campaigning for the chance to serve as Kentucky’s next treasurer see value in the job as an independent watchdog of state finances. The third candidate has a different objective - he wants to close the office.

Jon Larson, a Lexington attorney, said he supports putting a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot that would seek to abolish the treasurer’s office. Larson said the treasurer’s duties can be folded into the state Finance and Administration Cabinet.

“A vote for any other candidate is going to perpetuate this padding of the political pockets,” Larson said.

All three candidates tout their conservative credentials. Larson’s opponents - state Rep. Kenneth Imes of Murray and attorney Allison Ball of Prestonsburg - said the office plays an important oversight role.

“You need a treasurer that will stand up for the public’s personal interests,” said Imes, who wants to increase public scrutiny of state contracts.

Ball said she would apply conservative principles “to make sure the only things that are spent are things that are authorized by the General Assembly.”

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