GOP views Ky. election as victory over health care law
LOUISVILLE (AP) — The election of a conservative outsider as Kentucky governor has given Republicans a laboratory to show the rest of the country how they’d replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Three years into a coverage expansion that has brought the share of uninsured Americans to historically low levels, Matt Bevin’s lopsided victory underscores how politically divisive the law remains. But experts say slamming the brakes in a state already deeply entrenched in the Affordable Care Act would cost lots of time and money, testing the new Republican administration’s ability to rein in costs.
Kentucky has been one of the health care law’s success stories. The share of uninsured state residents has been slashed from about 20 percent in 2013 to 9 percent by the middle of this year, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a major independent survey. Experts credit that to a synergy between Kentucky’s state-run insurance marketplace and the decision to embrace Medicaid expansion.
But the expansion added 400,000 people to the state’s Medicaid rolls, more than twice what officials had predicted. Combined with the existing Medicaid program, Kentucky taxpayers now pay for the health insurance of a quarter of the state’s population. The state will begin paying for the expansion in 2017, and costs could surpass $300 million by 2020.
“(Bevin) is the one who has received the mandate here. We have to do something different,” said Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a doctor who opposes the Affordable Care Act. “The legislature and the governor needs to follow through. It’s clear on what voters are telling us they want to do.”
Outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear initiated both the insurance exchange and the Medicaid expansion by executive action. Bevin has said he’d dismantle the insurance marketplace, which would revert to federal operation. Kentucky would become the first state to do so for political reasons. Residents covered through the marketplace would continue to get subsidized health insurance, but they would do so through the federal website HealthCare.gov.
Officials investigate threat discovered in school’s bathroom
STANFORD (AP) — Lincoln County School officials are investigating after they say a threatening message was discovered at one of the district’s schools.
In a statement released by the district, officials say the message “Kill everybody 11-5-15” was found Wednesday afternoon by Lincoln County Middle School principal Debbie Sims.
Officials say the message was discovered in the girls’ downstairs lobby restroom of the middle school.
School officials say they began working with law enforcement immediately to investigate the incident.
Officials have decided to keep schools open Thursday. There will be an increased police presence at the middle school throughout the day to ensure the protection of the students and staff.
On Monday, Lincoln County Schools were canceled after a graffiti threat at Crab Orchard Elementary School was found over the weekend.
Bullitt Co. teacher acquitted in dragging of young student
SHEPHERDSVILLE (AP) — A teacher in Bullitt County has been acquitted of assaulting a 6-year-old student who was seen on surveillance video being dragged by the arm.
The teacher, Ashley Silas, had been charged with misdemeanor assault over the incident at Brooks Elementary School last year.
WAVE-TV in Louisville reports a jury heard the case and decided in the teacher’s favor.
Silas was accused of dragging the boy about 160 feet through the halls to the principal’s office because he was being disruptive on the playground.
The charges were brought after the boy’s father asked police to review surveillance video of the incident. The parents say the teacher should have sought help.
Attorney Brian Butler said Silas is protected by a Kentucky law that allows teachers to use force to maintain discipline in the classroom.
Center to offer special training to deal with school threats
RICHMOND (AP) — School officials will be offered special training following several threats that have shut down or caused evacuations at public schools in Kentucky.
Director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety Jon Akers tells media outlets that he estimates there have been at least 17 such threats this school year.
Akers says in the past two months, “it’s risen to the level where there’s immediate concern.”
Akers says he’ll offer workshops to school district officials in December and January in four regions of the state.
Akers says he expects to bring in a retired captain from the state police and a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official to help with the training.
Lincoln County Schools were canceled Monday after a graffiti threat was found over the weekend.
Man gets life sentence in slaying case
ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — A judge has sentenced a man to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years in a kidnapping and slaying case out of central Kentucky.
The News Enterprise reports Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard sentenced 26-year-old Octavio Correa on Tuesday according to terms reached in plea agreement.
Correa and Tiffany Hodges were charged in the death last year of 47-year-old Saul Alvarado Flores of Munfordville, whose body was found in his car.
Correa, who had been facing the death penalty, pleaded guilty in September to complicity to murder and complicity to kidnapping.
Hodges, who is 32, has also pleaded guilty to complicity to murder and complicity to kidnapping, but she hasn’t been sentenced yet.