Behind The Scenes, This Obamacare Program Is Lowering Costs In Kentucky Tuesday, Feb 21 2017 

Rande Swann had a very, very bad October.

That’s when her 80-year-old husband Don started getting sick for the first time in his life. First, it was cataract surgery. Then it was a partial knee replacement surgery. And then, as the kicker, a little more than a week after returning home from the hospital, her husband tried to climb the stairs by himself and fell.

“I was frantic because at the same time he’d taken the fall, that was the day I’d been in the ER with my 92-year-old mother all day long because she had blockages in the bowel ducts,” said Swann. “I finally get her settled and come home to check on him and he’s lying splayed out in the first floor foyer in pain.”

Submitted

Rande and Don Swann

At 64, Swann talks hurriedly, still works part-time and she teaches a broadcast journalism class. She’s got places to go. But her role as a caregiver for two and the stress that comes with it sent her to a dark place.

“It was like, I have this sizable life insurance policy on me,” said Swann, “and if they can’t get him in a nursing home, at least if I die, then he’s well cared for. There’s plenty of money to take care of that. There will be enough funds to take care of mother.”

Thankfully, Swann did not take her own life. Her husband and mother both got the care they needed, and she didn’t have to pay for all of it.

And for that, Swann credits a woman named Misty Stallard.

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

Misty Stallard at work in her cubicle.

Stallard works for KentuckyOne Health Partners. A former nurse, she spends most of her day inside a cubicle talking on the telephone. Stallard is part of a huge effort by the federal government to curb the cost of health care spending in the U.S. through the creation of accountable care organizations, or ACOs. They are groups of health care providers who work together to coordinate all aspects of a patient’s care.

“I help them make appointments to see their surgeon, post-opp appointments,” Stallard said. “I help get home health in the home if they need rehab. If they need to go to the ER, I will try to get them into see their physician and prevent that.”

When the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — was passed by Congress in 2010, it didn’t just create the health insurance exchanges or the expansion of Medicaid in states like Kentucky. These ACOs first started on a big scale because of Obamacare.

The law is almost 2,000 pages long, so there’s a lot more that could go away when the ACA is likely repealed by GOP lawmakers in Congress. But most of its provisions fly under the radar, provisions like ACOs.

A Low Profile

ACOs were designed to reduce medical errors, avoid duplicating care and save money. In the time KentuckyOne has been running its ACO, key metrics like “hospital length of stays” and “readmissions within 30 days of hospital discharge” have been reduced by half. Quality scores have gone up. And KentuckyOne said last year, the company saved $18 million for its Medicare patients alone.

But ACOs are still pretty low-profile. Most people don’t realize they’re part of one, let alone that these programs were created through Obamacare. Even Swann, who spoke with Stallard daily about her husband’s care, had no idea.

“Even having gone through all this, I didn’t realize it was tied to the ACA,” Swann said. “In fact, my husband said ‘does this have anything to do with Obamacare,’ and I said no.”

KentuckyOne Health Partners CEO Don Lovasz said people aren’t told about the connection to Obamacare on purpose because ACOs are difficult to explain.

As an example, Lovasz describes a situation where an elderly patient — “Don” — gets a hip replacement. Often, many patients have more than one illness going on at once, so in addition, the elderly patient might have a diabetes flare-up or high blood pressure during recovery at home.

“You’d call orthopedics, and because there were two or more things going on at once, the individual docs would say, ‘well why don’t you go back to the hospital,’” Lovasz said. “So patients would get readmitted unnecessarily. With the care coordination model, we’re able to look ahead and if it looks like ‘Don’ is developing pneumonia, we get some care as quickly as possible.”

So, what happens if the Affordable Care Act is repealed? President Donald Trump has promised as much, and Congressional GOP lawmakers are still trying to iron out what a replacement will look like.

Whatever happens, Lovasz doesn’t think the ACOs are going away. That’s because despite some hiccups, ACOs are saving money. Harvard Medical School professor Michael Chernu said the way ACOs are structured gives both providers and insurers incentives to coordinate care.

“In the old system, providers that were efficient — all that flowed back to the insurer,” Chernu said. “In this new system, the providers get top share in some of that, and that incents them to create more efficiencies.”

And that’s why insurers are interested in and, in some cases, expanding ACOs. Lovasz said even though KentuckyOne Health started the ACO because of Medicare, the company is now contracting with commercial insurers and is coordinating care for about 115,000 people.

Lovasz said KentuckyOne Health is also in talks with four Medicaid insurers in Kentucky to take on patients who are poorer, younger and generally in worse health.

When Rande Swann found out that the reason she was able to talk to KentuckyOne Health’s Mindy Stallard was a program created by the Affordable Care Act, she got a bit worried. But it saved her life and her sanity, all the while getting her husband better care than he normally would have under a traditional system.

And when Stallard got Swann’s husband into a nursing home to recover from his fall, KentuckyOne Health went a step further, getting him into the same nursing home where Swann’s mother was living.

“They arranged to put them next to each other so I could sit in the middle of their rooms and see about their care at all times,” Swann said.

High-ranking Quebec officials visit Louisville to foster trade Friday, Feb 17 2017 

High-ranking Quebec officials visited Louisville this week to foster more commerce between the Canadian province and Kentucky at a time that trade has fallen into some disfavor. President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, which regulates commerce between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, saying at one point that it […]

Republican Health Care Proposal Would Cover Fewer Low-Income Families Friday, Feb 17 2017 

House Republicans are debating a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act that would give consumers tax credits to buy insurance, cut back on Medicaid and allow people to save their own money to pay for health care costs.

The outline plan is likely to take away some of the financial help low-income families get through Obamacare subsidies, and also result in fewer people being covered under the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

“In general this is going to result in fewer people covered nationwide,” says Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president at Avalere, a health care consulting group.

Republican leaders distributed the skeleton proposal at a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on Thursday. Lawmakers now have an outline to bring with them to their districts for the Presidents Day holiday weekend, where they may face constituents with questions about what is going to happen to their health care. The plan is based on one outlined last summer by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., called the 18-page outline “guideposts and a road map.”

“We know the direction we want to go and sort of the destination,” Huizenga said outside the meeting.

Lawmakers who attended the meeting said the plan is to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a bill similar to one that passed in 2015 but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama. That proposal would have repealed all the taxes and subsidies associated with the health care law and would have killed the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance by getting rid of the tax penalty used to enforce it.

This Congress could either first pass a repeal bill and then a replacement bill, or include replacement elements in the repeal.

The meeting Thursday centered on “principles and goals on where we’re going in patient-centered care,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-La., after the meeting.

“We’re talking about repealing, replacing and starting to return control of health care and restoring the free market,” he said.

Most of the plan is silent on how much money lawmakers want to put behind their proposals, so it’s impossible to know exactly how generous the plan is and how many people it would cover.

The elements of the plan include replacing the subsidies that help people buy insurance through Obamacare exchanges with fixed tax credits to buy coverage on the open market.

The major difference between the two is that the Obamacare subsidies increase as premiums rise so that consumers are responsible for the same premium amount, which is tied to their income. The tax credits proposed by Ryan are not tied to income but rise as a person ages and insurance rates increase.

“The important thing on the tax credits is that they’re not income adjusted and we don’t know how big they are,” Pearson says.

She says it’s unlikely they’ll be as generous as the Obamacare subsidies.

“This likely means that low-income people will have difficulty affording individual insurance,” she says.

The outline distributed by Republicans repeatedly mentions that people will be able to buy so-called catastrophic coverage, which has limited day-to-day benefits but protects people when they have a serious illness or accident that requires a lot of health care.

The plan also calls for expanding health savings accounts, which allow people to save their own money tax-free to pay for health care costs. It calls for the limits on HSA savings to rise from $6,750 per family to $13,100.

HSAs are a favorite among conservatives because they encourage people to save and plan for their health spending and to shop around for price.

Democrats have criticized the focus on HSAs because they only help people who have extra money to put away and give a bigger tax cut to people with higher incomes.

The Republicans’ plan also calls for a major restructuring of the Medicaid health care program for the poor. It would repeal the Medicaid expansion that most states adopted under the Affordable Care Act, which allowed able-bodied people with incomes just above the poverty line to become eligible for Medicaid coverage.

And it would cap how much the federal government spends per person per year. Right now, Medicaid pays all health care costs for those who are eligible.

“This is a potentially significant incentive for states to get serious about efficiency,” says Paul Howard, director of health policy at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.

Howard says states currently have an incentive to increase their spending on Medicaid, because it boosts the amount of federal money they get.

Ryan’s plan would make Medicaid either a block grant program, where states receive a fixed amount of money, or it would be a per capita benefit, where the federal government would give the states a set amount for each beneficiary.

States could still offer Medicaid to those who became eligible under expansion, but the states’ share of the costs would be higher than it is under the Affordable Care Act, likely making it too expensive for many states to do so.

Finally, the Republican plan would offer states pools of cash to come up with ways to expand insurance access to more people.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Aetna, Humana End Attempted Merger Tuesday, Feb 14 2017 

Several weeks after a federal judge blocked their planned merger on antitrust concerns, health care insurers Aetna and Humana have agreed to abandon the deal.

The decision, announced by Aetna Tuesday morning, also means the Connecticut-based company will not sell off parts of its Medicare Advantage businesses to a smaller insurer, a move meant to assuage federal regulators’ concerns that the merger would reduce competition and consumer choice.

Humana is based in Louisville and employs some 12,000 people in the area. The $37 billion proposed merger would’ve created one of the largest health insurers in the nation, one particularly dominant in Medicare Advantage business. 

Aetna will pay Humana $1 billion as a result of the termination of the deal.

“We are disappointed to take this course of action after 19 months of planning, but both companies need to move forward with their respective strategies in order to continue to meet member expectations,” said Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini. “Our mutual respect for our companies’ capabilities has grown throughout this process, and we remain committed to a shared goal of helping drive the shift to a consumer-centric health care system.”

In January, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against the merger, saying the combined company would lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers seeking Medicare Advantage plans. The Justice Department sued last year seeking to block the deal.

In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer said the announcement brings needed resolution for both companies.

“Humana has been a world-class company throughout its 56-year-history, and I am extremely confident and enthusiastic about its future as an independent company,” he said. “This announcement provides clarity and signals a tremendous future for Humana and its legacy of civic participation and leadership in Louisville.”

Humana Pulling Out of Obamacare Exchanges

Kentuckians won’t be able to buy a Humana plan on Healthcare.gov for 2018, the company said Tuesday.

Humana coverage was only available in a handful of counties, but the move signals an individual exchange market that is up in the air with the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act by GOP lawmakers in Congress.

“We really evaluated the exchanges in different lights and one of them was the financial liability of the product,” said Brian Kane, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Humana. “And I think it’ll be difficult for us to get back into that marketplace.”

The news that Humana won’t be appealing the court’s blocking of the merger is likely good for consumers in one regard. A study out from Harvard last month found that while bigger insurance companies often negotiated lower prices from doctor’s offices, those lower prices don’t necessarily get passed on to consumers.

What most likely would have happened is a bump in the monthly charge for insurance, because bigger insurers are able to do this, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania.

“There’s no evidence that as insurers negotiate lower prices from providers, that those savings are passed on to consumers. In fact, some of the best research on insurer mergers has found that as insurers merge, premiums go up,” said Eric Roberts, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.

The Aetna-Humana merger was mainly stopped because of concerns that it would have created something akin to a monopoly in the Medicare Advantage market, which offers private plans to people over 65.

Instead, executives at Humana said Tuesday they’re planning on investing in getting seniors more care at home to slow down chronic diseases.

“This organization needs to stay focused on what we do well, and what we do well is to serve chronic conditions through our clinical programs,” said Brian Kane, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Humana. “And the [exchange plans] program that’s designed today will limit our ability to deliver the true capabilities we have.”

That means Humana could partner with local accountable care organizations, which follow up with patients on things like making doctor’s appointments, wound care after surgery and whether a senior needs to go to a nursing home to avoid the emergency room.

Closing Clinics: Abortion Rights Increasingly Out Of Reach Monday, Feb 13 2017 

Dona Wells walked through what’s left of the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Boxes fill what use to be offices. Sterilized medical supplies are in disarray. A light flickers on and off in the back hallway. She doesn’t see a point in fixing it. At 75, she still runs 25 miles a week, but Wells is tired.

“I was going to retire anyway, probably this year,” she said. “But I wanted to do it on my terms, not Gov. Bevin’s terms.”

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

Dona Wells holds a newspaper from the 1990s with a story that focused on abortion providers.

That would be Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who recently signed two bills into law further restricting abortion services: one requiring an ultrasound as part of abortions and another prohibiting the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The final straw for Wells came in the form of a new license requirement from the state. Wells has been battling restrictive rules for most of the clinic’s 28 years, but the battle is over now. She’s closing the clinic.

That leaves Kentucky with a single abortion clinic. A few weeks later, a clinic closed in West Virginia, leaving that state, too, with a single clinic. In Ohio, there are now 9 abortion clinics, down from 18 in 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research center that gathers reproductive health data.

For all the talk of potential changes in the Supreme Court’s view of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion, Wells said an effective erosion of the rights that decision established is already underway at the state and local level.

Roe v. Wade — it doesn’t matter if they overturn it or not, if they have enough restrictions on abortions that people are unwilling or unable to meet,” she asked, “what’s a right if you can’t access it?” Then she went back to packing up her office.

State Restrictions

The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 established abortion rights. By the 80s, Wells said, abortion was widely viewed as a medical option, one performed by many private doctors. Health departments made referrals. There were a half dozen clinics in Lexington and Louisville.

But the public protests, going back to the mid-80s when protesters routinely chained themselves to clinic doors, had an impact.

Slowly, Wells said, the number of doctors who were willing to perform abortions shrank. There were in turn fewer doctors who were being trained to perform abortions. Changes in available medicines had an effect as well. The “morning after” pill became available, and more women had access to longer-lasting contraceptives.

While the medical landscaped broadened, the political landscaped narrowed. Over the same stretch of time, legislatures across the country enacted laws restricting abortion.

In Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, there is a 24 hour waiting period between making contact with an abortion provider and having the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A woman must also receive information discouraging her from abortion.

Wells said that in 2016 the state asked that her clinic obtain a license to perform abortions. The clinic had previously acted as an independent doctor’s office that doesn’t require such a license.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

The sterilization room in the EMW clinic, which opened in 1989.

Wells said she tried to comply with the state request. But, she said, “there was always something wrong with the paperwork.”

For much of the last year, she has not been able to provide surgeries. In January, the Kentucky Attorney General denied her license application. At the same time EMW also lost the lease it had held since 1989.

Wells said fighting back didn’t make sense.

Celebrating Closures

Pastor Jared Henry leads a congregation of 200 at Lafayette Church of the Nazarene, less than 2 miles from the EMW clinic.

When Wells lost her fight, Henry celebrated.

“All that they did was kill babies there,” he said. “I think that our city, our state, our world is better off even if it is one less (clinic), praise be to God.”

Soon after he became pastor, Henry discovered the protesters gathered at EMW each Thursday and Friday. Henry said he often prayed with women who were willing to pray with him and prayed for those women who were not. Members of his small congregation gave money to the cause and contacted lawmakers to express their views.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

An anti-abortion display at the Lafayette Church of the Nazarene.

Henry said supporting life is crucial to the mission of the church, including ending abortion but also supporting adoption and foster care. That, he said, is critical.

“It’s not just saying, ‘this is wrong.’ That’s kind of like a doctor saying, ‘you’re sick.’ I want him to tell me what to do about it,” he said.

Although he said he and his congregation have contacted political leaders about abortion, he thinks the issue has gotten too politically charged.

“My biggest problem it that sometimes politicians use it to garner votes on one end of the spectrum or the other. Politicians very rarely ease anything, it usually gets it more fired up,” he said.

Limiting Access

Wells declined to talk about the protesters at her clinic. But, she said, the tone of the debate has become more vicious over the years. The language has become more graphic. And, she said, “alternative facts” more rampant.

“I just don’t have time to dispute all the misinformation the, quote, government, unquote, comes up with,” she said.

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Sharon Lewis is executive director of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, that state’s sole abortion clinic. She said as a provider she will find a way to comply with new rules. But she said limiting access — making people have to find transportation to go farther, to find money to pay for child care and possibly two days in a hotel — that makes a legal medical service too expensive for many.

“What it could do is send us back to the days when women died because they had unintended pregnancies,” she said.

Long Term Impact

Earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report showing a leap in maternal mortality. Dr. Caitlin Gerdts is Vice President for Research at Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit group that advocates for reproductive rights. She said it’s difficult to find a firm cause and effect between that maternal mortality data and the decreased access to abortion.

For example, she said, the CDC points to the effects of chronic diseases such as heart disease. But, she said, research has shown that restricting abortion does have health effects.

“There is a substantial physical health, mental and economic health of being denied a wanted abortion,” she said.

Pastor Henry said in his experience the women he counsels suffer from emotional pain. He said the closing of the Lexington clinic allows for a shift in focus of his church’s pro-life ministry.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

Pastor Jared Henry leads a congregation of 200 at Lafayette Church of the Nazarene in Lexington.

“Maybe this will allow us to focus more on issues of adoption and foster care,” he said.

“We are not hear to beat people up,” he said. “You did wrong and it was a serious wrong, but God can forgive, so let’s move forward.”

However, members of his congregation also took a recent road trip to Louisville. There they demonstrated in front of Kentucky’s sole remaining clinic.

Kara Lofton, Appalachia Health News Coordinator for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, contributed to this report.

Bill Requiring College Immunizations Heads To Kentucky House Thursday, Feb 9 2017 

Incoming freshmen college students would be required to get immunizations and vaccines before starting classes under a bill passed Thursday by a Kentucky House committee.

Some universities require immunizations for incoming freshmen, but only if the student will live in a dorm. The measure would require all students, even those living off campus, to be immunized.

Patty Swiney, former president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians, said the bill is designed to target meningitis, and students who attended private school or were home schooled.

Students attending public school have to be immunized before Kindergarten, 6th grade and the 11th grade for not only meningitis, but the measles, mumps and other illnesses.

“They live, eat and study in close quarters,” said Swiney, who’s also the medical director for the Bourbon County Health Department. “Many are on their own for the first time, they don’t recognize they’re contagious until it’s been spread to classmates. And the delay of treatment causes prolonged and costlier recovery.”

House Bill 147 does, however, contain a religious exemption as well as an exception for people who are not able to be immunized because of medical reasons, like allergies.

The religious exemption, Swiney believes, has been used by people as a loophole to not get their shots. She’s working this year to eliminate the exemption. She wants to instead institute an educational program people would have to go through before they could be exempted.

“It’s just an education matter,” she said. “It’s a fear, that we’ve listened to people that don’t have the background and who don’t have the knowledge about the immunization.”

The bill will go to the House as early as Friday, and then on to the Senate.

When Old Medicine Goes Bad Monday, Feb 6 2017 

Most of us have reached for a painkiller, at one time or another, only to discover the date on the label shows it’s expired. But what does an “expiration” date on medicine really mean? Is it dangerous if you take it anyway? Less effective?

It turns out that date stamped on the label actually means a lot. It’s based on scientific evidence gathered by the manufacturer showing how long the drug’s potency lasts. Companies expose their medications to different environments, different temperatures and humidity levels to see just how long it takes for the medication to degrade to the point that its effectiveness is compromised.

The general rule, says pharmacist Mike Fossler, with the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, is that once a drug is degraded by 10 percent it has reached “the end of its useful life.” If you take it months or even years past the expiration date, it’s unlikely to do you any harm, he says; it just might not do you much good.

That may not be a big deal if you’re treating a headache, but if you’re fighting a bacterial infection with antibiotics like amoxicillin or ciprofloxacin, for example, using less than fully potent drugs could fail to treat the infection and lead to more serious illness.

Pharmacist Mohamed Jalloh, a spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association, says there’s an even bigger reason not to rely on old drugs: antibiotic resistance. When you inadvertently “underdose” yourself by taking antibiotics that aren’t full strength, he says, you run the risk that the bacteria you’re battling will figure out not only how to defeat this weakened drug, but other antibiotics, too.

At least 23,000 people each year in the U.S. die from infections that have become resistant to antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If your medicine has expired, don’t use it,” concurs Ilisa Bernstein, deputy director of the office of compliance in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

That goes for over-the-counter drugs, as well as prescription meds. Check the expiration date before even buying those pain relievers or allergy tablets, some pharmacists advise — the same way you check your milk. Buy the one with the date that’s furthest away.

“Once the expiration date has passed,” Bernstein says, “there is no guarantee that the medicine will be safe and effective.”

Of course, even new drugs can quickly lose potency if they’re not stored properly. Get those pills out of the bathroom “medicine cabinet” now, pharmacists say. The steam from your shower or shave kills pills fast.

“Medicines like the kind of environment that people like — a little dry and not too hot or cold,” Fossler says. And, of course, don’t take medication to the beach or leave it in a hot car. Like humidity, heat degrades a medicine’s active ingredients.

Some medications are more vulnerable than others, so check the label. Insulin, certain immunotherapy drugs, and some children’s pain relievers and cold remedies require refrigeration and protection from light.

And compared to capsules and tablets, “liquids are not as highly preserved,” says Barbara Kochanowski, a scientist with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Liquid drugs can more easily become contaminated with bacteria and fungus.

Anytime you see a change in the color, odor or consistency of a drug — such as a cream turning into a runny solution — consider it a red flag, Kochanowski says, and consult your pharmacist. It’s probably time to toss that medication.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Anti-Abortion Group Protests Outside Louisville Middle, High Schools Saturday, Feb 4 2017 

Abortion opponents gathered Friday morning outside DuPont Manual High School in Old Louisville before the sun rose. Armed with pictures of fetuses, the protesters were also stationed outside Noe Middle School, where Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson’s 11-year-old daughter attends school.

“She saw graphic depictions of what you would expect at an antiabortion rally, the signs. My daughter is 11, and that’s nothing she needs to be looking at or dealing with in her life right now,” Ackerson said. “These folks have stepped way across a line.”

Gov. Matt Bevin last month signed two laws limiting abortions in Kentucky. One bans the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy and is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union; the other requires a sonogram with a description from a doctor for a woman seeking an abortion.

Friday’s protesters came from Operation Save America, a far-right religious group previously known as Operation Rescue. OSA President Rusty Thomas said they were at the schools to help prevent abortions.

“Our outreach to high schools and campuses throughout America is based on our philosophy that prevention is better than a cure,” Thomas said. “We live in a sexually promiscuous society.”

OSA is holding a leadership conference this weekend in advance of its national conference here in July. Thomas also met with Bevin this week.

“Our ultimate goal is that Kentucky will make history as the first surgically abortion-free state in the United States of America,” Thomas said.

The EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville is the last abortion provider in Kentucky, following the closure of a clinic in Lexington. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky last year closed its clinic in Louisville after a lawsuit by the state over questions about the status of its license application.

OSA is staying at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Legacy Hotel. The group is holding its conference at Crossroads Church in Georgetown, Indiana, this weekend.

Ackerson said the group’s presence here is concerning.

“Shame on anyone that is affiliated with these individuals. And that would include, if it’s the Baptist Seminary that is housing them, shame on them also,” Ackerson said.

Colby Adams, spokesperson for the Seminary, said the organization does not have a relationship or affiliation with the group.

“In no way does it connote an official endorsement or partnership,” Adams said. “We’re not in the position to make value judgments on the groups that stay at the Legacy.”

Past Calls for Violence

Operation Rescue changed its name to Operation Save America after reports that violence against abortion providers and at clinics was tied to the organization.

Although Thomas said the group does not promote violence, Miranda Blue at People for the American Way said there are documented ties.

Last year at OSA’s annual conference in Kansas, the group hosted Matthew Trewhella — who founded a subgroup called Missionaries to the Preborn and was one of the first anti-abortion leaders to call for militias — as a keynote speaker.

Trewhella was also part of an anti-abortion and anti-government group that cited abortion as a key reason “to spring immediately and effectively to arms,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups.

“These [are] people with extreme views who are willing to associate with the fringe of the fringe,” Blue said.

OSA is planning a large protest at the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in downtown Louisville on Saturday.

Judge’s Aetna-Humana ruling prompts class-action lawsuit Thursday, Feb 2 2017 

A judge’s contention that Aetna leaders engaged in deception and coverup about why they left some Affordable Care Act exchanges has become the basis for a class-action lawsuit against the insurer and its leaders. Judge John D. Bates, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, last week had sided with government officials who […]

Republicans told to proceed with speed – and caution – on dismantling Obamacare Thursday, Feb 2 2017 

By Lesley Clark | Lexington Herald-Leader Washington Bureau WASHINGTON – Republicans have yet to agree on how they want to replace the Affordable Care Act, but they’re hearing that they might not have much time. Insurance companies need some details by the end of March as they develop health coverage packages for 2018, panelists suggested […]

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