(LOUISVILLE, Ky., August 16, 2017) Citing the need for Kentucky to move from a health care rescue system that treats patients once they become acutely ill to a system that promotes health on the front end, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky today outlined several policy measures to improve Kentucky's relatively poor health compared to the rest of the nation.

The presentation made by President and CEO Ben Chandler at today's meeting of the Kentucky legislature's Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare and Family Services, is now available online.

Selected statements from the testimony:


  • "I submit to you today that the single most effective policy changes we can make to improve the health of Kentuckians are changes that will reduce our smoking rates and exposure to secondhand smoke."
  • "Passing smoke-free laws and raising the tobacco tax by $1 or more per pack will help reduce smoking, save health care costs, and won't cost the state a dime."
  • "You have to raise the tax by $1 or more to get the health benefits. Otherwise, it's just an added tax burden on the poor."


  • "Kentucky is the cancer mortality capital of the nation."


  • "Some of the evidence-based programs that help reduce obesity include making the health choice the easiest choice by replacing sugary drinks and snacks in school and government vending machines with healthier options, such as fruit and water; increasing the tax on sugary drinks; passing policies that require new streets to be walkable and bikeable; building sidewalks, walking trails, playgrounds and other places where residents can safely engage in physical activity; and adopting policies that enable farmer's markets to thrive."

Heart Disease:

  • "... nationwide, heart disease mortality declined nearly 58 percent from 1980 to 2014, but not in Eastern Kentucky. In Owsley County, cardiovascular disease mortality actually increased over that 34 year period."

General health status:

  • "While all of Kentucky lags behind the nation as a whole, it's generally people living in more rural Eastern counties with more challenging health issues. The latest numbers show that the health disparities between Central Appalachia and the rest of the nation, or even the rest of Appalachia, are large. And they're continuing to grow."
  • "We have to focus on promoting policy changes that lead to healthier outcomes by addressing the things that cause poor health in the first place. ... We now have a rescue system."
  • "I've yet to meet a person who wants more health care when they can have health."

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $27 million in health policy research and advocacy, as well as demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.

Media Contacts:
Bonnie J. Hackbarth
877-326-2583 (Office)
502-552-3770 (Mobile)

Angela Koch
877-326-2583 (Office)
502-759-2171 (Mobile)