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Guest Editorial – Dr. Susan Zepeda, The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is a non-profit, non-partisan philanthropic organization committed to improving the health of Kentuckians. We do this through targeted research, polling and investment in demonstration projects aimed at testing ways to do health care differently or improve community health. We seek to improve access to care, reduce health risks and disparities, and promote health equity.

Each year, in partnership with the Cincinnati-based Interact for Health foundation, we fund the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). KHIP provides health status and brief socioeconomic profiles of the Commonwealth along with Kentuckian’s views on health-related topics. Data collected through this telephone survey includes responses from 1,551 Kentuckians. Researchers interview adults at random. Both landline and cell phone interviews are conducted.

This research gives policymakers, and all of us, a snapshot of Kentucky views. Topics polled in the current 2014 reports include:

• Health insurance coverage
• Medicaid expansion
• Kynect
• Affordable Care Act
• Smoke-free law
• Eating fruits and vegetable
• Physical activity
• Oral health
• Drinking water
• Children’s health policy

Most recent KHIP findings show a majority of Kentuckians in support of a statewide smoke-free law, have heard about kynect, the state’s insurance marketplace, and support the governor’s decision to expand Medicaid. With respect to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), almost 6 in 10 Kentucky adults (57 percent) reported not having enough information to know whether the healthcare reform law would impact them personally. This is a significant decrease from KHIP 2010 and 2011, when more than 7 in 10 Kentucky adults (72 percent) reported not having enough information. Five in 10 (48 percent) reported unfavorable views of the ACA. Views on the ACA in Kentucky were similar to national opinions reported by Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. On kynect, KHIP found that 7 in 10 uninsured Kentucky adults (70 percent) had heard something about the new marketplace. In regards to the decision to expand Medicaid in Kentucky, large majorities of all demographic groups tracked by KHIP, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, favored  Medicaid expansion.

Some additional highlights from KHIP include:
• Sixty-five percent support for a statewide smoke-free law
• The number of adults who report that friends or family members have had problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers has dropped from 33 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in our latest poll.
• Adults in northern Kentucky are three times more likely than Kentuckians statewide to have a family member or friend with a heroin problem.
• Only 23 percent of Kentucky adults get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
• People in Appalachia are twice as likely as Kentuckians statewide, to report difficulty obtaining access to a variety of fruits and vegetables.

For additional information on the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, please visit our website: http://www.healthy-ky.org. For more information about the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, including issue briefs and past year reports, click on the data and reports tab on our homepage.

Dr. Susan Zepeda is President/CEO of The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. She also serves on the boards of the Kentucky Institute of Medicine and the Southeastern Council of Foundations.



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