Rural hospitals audit important to set benchmark for healthy Ky., Edelen says; work on backlog of untested rape kits begins in coming weeks

04/02/2015 07:52 AM

The nine-month audit of 52 percent of the state’s 66 rural hospitals offers a “benchmark” for health care in outlying facilities after the implementation of managed care, but before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“I think the net result is getting people together — even folks that disagree, that there are certain facts that inform this discussion,” Edelen said.

Edelen said the biggest challenges for the hospitals have been the disappearance of private insurance as coal mining jobs have declined in rural regions and a shaky economic recovery that’s especially acute outside metropolitan areas.

“Government insurance is better than no insurance,” Edelen said. “When you have hospitals that the business models for years that assume some degree of a healthy private insurance market we understand that the business model has to change.”

Calling the shifts in health care an “unbelievable transformation,” Edelen said the last time health care in America changed as much as it is now was in the 1960s during the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid.

“It’s having an impact all over rural America,” Edelen said.

In his report Edelen has called for an oversight panel to evaluate health care delivery in rural parts of Kentucky, with additional oversight given to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services on the financial wellbeing of rural hospitals — something the cabinet says would be a potential conflict of interest.

CHFS Secretary Audrey Haynes told Pure Politics that hospital boards should post more financial information to their websites for greater transparency, but Edelen said that’s not enough.

“The folks who are trying to run these rural hospitals and the boards who are serving them are in uncharted waters, and they really need to have the same professional level of expertise that we had from the cabinet that was so successful in implementing kynect,” Edelen said. (9:37) “To me this is what’s so truly frustrating, Nick. We’ve used this model and it worked.”

Hear what Edelen has to say about the report using as political fodder to dismantle the state’s portal to health insurance at 11:47 in the interview below.

As Edelen advocates for stronger oversight of Kentucky’s rural hospitals, his focus shifts towards a backlog of untested rape kits in the commonwealth.

Calling the audit of the kits “the most important thing we do this year,” Edelen revealed that the investigation would be launching in the next “couple of weeks.”

While it’s still unknown just how many rape kits are untested in Kentucky, Edelen said the high volume of untested rape kits is shocking.

“I think the least that government owes victims or alleged victims is making sure they count and that we literally keep track of these rape kits,” he said.

Edelen said grants and non-profit groups stand ready to help get the kits tested once an accurate number of kits is determined.

“My office is going to go in and help conduct what is truly a comprehensive assessment of to find out how many are in backlog — where they are and make a recommendations for improving the system,” Edelen said, adding that he will also rely on the help of law enforcement.

Edelen predicted that the state would be able to ensure “serial rapists” face retribution after the back log is cleared.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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