MEDICAID

Medicaid commissioner warns of skyrocketing spending

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's new Medicaid commissioner says the cost to run the state health insurance program will jump 20 percent to more than $3.7 billion over the next two years, calling into question its sustainability long term.

Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear expanded Kentucky's Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. The expansion brought in an additional 428,000 people, far more than state officials had predicted.

The promotion of the new program also brought in about 60,000 people who qualified for the traditional Medicaid program but had not signed up for the service. Medicaid Commissioner Stephen Miller said those people cost about $124 million a year.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has promised to repeal the expanded Medicaid program and replace it with something else, possibly a system that would require people to pay a small premium.

ROAD BUDGET

Low gas prices putting strain on Kentucky's road fund

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Lower gas prices are putting more strain on Kentucky's road fund while bringing relief to consumers.

Transportation Cabinet officials said Tuesday that state motor fuels tax revenues are about $33 million below projections for the current fiscal year.

And in coming years, the gas tax is expected to take in much lower amounts compared to this year.

Acting Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says the state needs to be prudent in stretching transportation dollars to cover as many projects as possible.

Hancock spoke to a House budget subcommittee. He outlined Gov. Matt Bevin's proposal to spend $6 billion on roads and bridges in the next six years.

Rep. Dennis Keene says a plan is needed to generate more revenue to meet highway needs. Without it, he says economic development efforts will suffer.

SUSPECT-WINTER SWIM

Sheriff: Man swims across frigid river in bid to flee arrest

(Information in the following story is from: WSAZ-TV, http://www.wsaz.com)

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — Authorities say a man took a chilly swim across state lines and fled over the snow in his shorts, but failed to escape the law.

Kentucky's Martin County Sheriff John Kirk tells WSAZ-TV that when West Virginia State troopers arrived Monday at Terry Jarvis' mother's West Virginia house, the 26-year-old Mingo County man ran out the back door and jumped into the Tug Fork River, wearing just a pair of shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Air temperatures Monday were in the 30s and 40s.

Kirk says Jarvis was wanted on unspecified warrants.

Authorities say they tracked Jarvis' footprints in the snow to a Kentucky house where they found him hiding in a shower, about a mile south of his river crossing.

It's unclear whether Jarvis has an attorney.

NEEDLE EXCHANGE

Grant County officials approve needle exchange program

(Information in the following story is from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com)

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) — The Northern Kentucky Health Department is set to get its first needle exchange program.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Grant County Fiscal Court agreed Monday to have the program in the department's Williamstown Health Center.

Grant County is the eighth in the state to approve a syringe-access exchange program.

Dr. Lynne Saddler, the health department's district director, says the programs aren't only a response to the region's heroin epidemic, but are also a crucial step to prevent the spread of hepatitis C and HIV in communities.

Health department spokeswoman Emily Gresham-Wherle says the program's opening date wasn't immediately decided.

The health department's concept will exchange clean for contaminated needles, and provide testing and other services that the department already offers. Another goal is to help guide drug users toward treatment.

TRIPLE HOMICIDE

Suspect charged in triple fatal shooting pleads not guilty

(Information in the following story is from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The suspect arrested in the fatal shooting of three people found at a Louisville home has pleaded not guilty.

The Courier-Journal reports 26-year-old George Slaughter of Louisville pleaded not guilty Monday in Jefferson District Court. Slaughter is charged with three counts of murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the killings.

Deputy Coroner Eddie Robinson says Louisville Metro Police found 35-year-old William Neal and 43-year-old Elizabeth Draper dead inside their home early Saturday.

Thirty-six-year-old Douglas Weber, of New Albany, Indiana, was also pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrested Slaughter later that day. He is currently being held on bond. Online jail records do not list an attorney for Slaughter.

His next court appearance is Feb. 25.

SOCIAL WORK-CONFERENCE

UofL social work school sponsoring conference

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The University of Louisville's Kent School of Social Work is sponsoring a conference geared toward young people, their parents and educators.

UofL says the conference will focus on such issues as healthy relationships, the value of diversity, safe social-media use and parent-child communication. The free, public conference is set for March 5.

The conference, called "Building Healthy Relationships Together," will run from 9 a.m. to noon at Foster Traditional Academy.

The morning sessions are geared toward young people and adults such as educators, counselors and parents.

Local leaders will talk about issues such as bullying and wise navigation of online communication.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press