Last updated: July 30. 2014 11:17AM - 462 Views
Mindy Miller mmiller@civitasmedia.com

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HAZARD — The Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP), sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, reflects the views Kentuckians hold on various health-related issues. The results show that respondents from Eastern Kentucky had similar views to those of the rest of the state.

The majority of adults throughout the state favored a statewide, smoke-free law, tobacco free policies on school campuses, new school nutrition standards, and requiring schools to provide 30 minutes a day of physical activity to students. A majority also favored the decision to expand Medicaid in Kentucky and had heard about the state’s new health insurance marketplace called kynect.

Susan Zepeda, president/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said that it was interesting to see how similar Eastern Kentucky views were in many areas to those of Kentuckians in general.

“Examples include their favorable view of Medicaid expansion (81%), their support for tobacco free school campuses (81%), and their support for mandating that schools require 30 minutes a day of physical activity for students (98%),” Zepeda said.

Also, like respondents in the rest of the state, a substantial minority of Eastern Kentuckians held a generally unfavorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Results for Kentucky were similar to national poll results from the Kaiser Family Foundation. In Kentucky opinions on the ACA, frequently referred to as Obamacare, differed based on political party identification. Half (52%) of Democrats reported favorable views of the law. Only 1 in 7 Republicans (14%) and Independents (15%) reported favorable views. However, despite the overall unfavorable view, most Eastern Kentuckians overwhelmingly supported Medicaid expansion, which was made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

The question, according to a representative from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, did not use the official name for the law - the Affordable Care Act - and the popular term for it - Obamacare - interchangeably. Respondents were simply asked if enough information had been provided to them in order for them to understand how the law would or would not impact them personally.

There were several key differences between Eastern Kentucky and the rest of the state. Adults in Eastern Kentucky were more likely to have been offered help or counseling by a doctor or nurse to stop smoking if they are a current smoker. Adults in the region were less likely to rate the conditions of their neighborhood sidewalks and shoulders as “excellent” or “very good,” rate their neighbood as very safe to walk, jog, or bike, and report visiting a dentist in the past year.

As for the neighborhood safety concerns, a representative with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky said Eastern Kentucky respondents reported the least access, with just under 3 in 10 adults (28%) living in communities with sidewalks and shoulders that allow for safe walking, jogging, or biking. Sixty-eight percent of Eastern Kentuckians reported their neighborhoods as being “fair/poor” in this regard.

Mindy Miller can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.

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