Governor Steve Beshear has made improving the health and wellness of Kentucky’s children, families and workforce one of his highest priorities. To significantly advance the wellbeing of Kentucky’s citizens, Governor Beshear is announcing the following health goals for the Commonwealth. He is outlining a number of strategies to help achieve these goals over the next five years, and will continue to add strategies throughout his term. These strategies will be implemented through executive and legislative actions, public-private partnerships and through the success of enrolling Kentuckians in health care coverage.

kyhealthnow 2019 goals

  • Reduce Kentucky’s rate of uninsured individuals to less than 5%
  • Reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate by 10%.
  • Reduce the rate of obesity among Kentuckians by 10%.
  • Reduce Kentucky cancer deaths by 10%.
  • Reduce cardiovascular deaths by 10%.
  • Reduce the percentage of children with untreated dental decay by 25% and increase adult dental visits by 10%.
  • Reduce deaths from drug overdose by 25% and reduce by 25% the average number of poor mental health days of Kentuckians.


Goal: Reduce Kentucky’s rate of uninsured individuals to less than 5%.

Kentucky has had tremendous success in providing people the health care coverage they need and deserve through kynect, Kentucky’s health benefit exchange. To date, over 230,000 Kentuckians have enrolled. We must work to improve our efforts to identify and enroll uninsured Kentuckians. Today, Gov. Beshear set a goal of reducing the number of uninsured Kentuckians to less than 5 percent of the population by 2019. Strategies he will use to achieve this goal include:

  • Enroll at least 350,000 individuals in Medicaid and/or Health Benefit Exchange plans by the end of 2015. These individuals include previously uninsured individuals, as well as previously insured individuals who are now eligible for Medicaid or who choose to purchase plans through kynect.
  • Increase the number of kynectors and insurance agents participating in kynect by 10% by the end of 2015.
  • Continue to develop and execute kynect advertising and marketing campaigns, including continued collaboration with stakeholders to reach and enroll the uninsured.
  • Allow for rate quotes and a browse feature for health insurance plans offered through kynect for small employers and agents without creating an account or filing an application.
  • Increase collaboration between state agencies to identify uninsured individuals who may be enrolled in other state programs.
  • Increase access to kynect for individuals who speak languages other than English and Spanish.
  • Increase application web functionality for employers and insurance agents.
  • Increase outreach efforts to small employers by working with business associations.


Goal: Reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate by 10%.

Health experts agree – tobacco use is the single biggest factor negatively impacting the overall health of Kentuckians. In study after study, Kentucky ranks at the bottom on tobacco use – 50th in smoking (28.3% of adults, 24.1% of youth, 24.4% of pregnant women). Therefore, Gov. Beshear will launch an aggressive campaign to decrease Kentucky’s smoking rate, including the following strategies:

  • Continue to support comprehensive statewide smoke-free legislation.
  • Encourage Kentucky’s cities and counties to continue to implement smoke-free policies.
  • Expand tobacco-free policies to more executive branch property.
  • Support increases in taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, and tax e-cigarettes commensurate with other tobacco products.
  • Partner with school districts and universities to implement tobacco free campuses.
  • Increase use of smoking cessation therapy by 50%.
  • Support legislation to ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors.


Goal: Reduce the obesity rate among Kentuckians by 10%.

Kentucky’s obesity problem has far-reaching health and productivity implications – and threatens the future health of children. The Commonwealth ranks 42nd in obesity and 46th in physical inactivity. A shocking 31.3% of adults in Kentucky are obese. Obesity is linked to multiple chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The Governor will initiate multiple strategies to address this problem, including:

  • Double the number of enrollees in the Diabetes Prevention Program through those enrolling through kynect.
  • Ensure access for all state employees to the Diabetes Prevention Program as part of the Humana Vitality program.
  • Direct executive branch facilities to implement federal guidelines requiring posting of nutritional information for vending and concessions in state buildings.
  • Work with public and private workplaces to adopt healthy concessions and vending policies reflecting federal guidelines.
  • Provide ready access to executive branch employees to stairwells at work.
  • Certify 10 new “Trail Towns” through the Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism by the end of 2015.
  • Complete the Dawkins Rail Line Trail by the end of 2015, adding 36 miles of trail to Kentucky’s statewide trail network.
  • Invest more than $30 million in federal funds by the end of 2015 to support many community-driven initiatives for pedestrian and bicycle paths.
  • Challenge school districts to increase physical activity opportunities for children through implementing comprehensive school physical activity programs.
  • Double the number of schools rating proficient or higher for coordinated school health committees by the end of 2015.
  • Partner with school districts to increase the number of school districts collecting and reporting body mass index (BMI) data within the Kentucky Student Information System.
  • Work with early child care providers to increase opportunities to prevent obesity among our youngest children.
  • Develop initiatives to honor and recognize businesses and schools that provide greater opportunities for physical activity.


Goal: Reduce Kentucky Cancer Deaths by 10%.

With nearly 9,500 cancer deaths every year, Kentucky ranks 50th in the nation for cancer deaths. In addition to the strategies identified above under Tobacco Use and Obesity, Gov. Beshear will implement additional strategies specifically targeted to reduce cancer deaths in the Commonwealth, including:

  • Increase screening rates for colon, lung and breast cancer by 25% in accordance with evidence-based guidelines.
  • Provide a $1 million match to the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program in the 2014-2016 executive budget to provide $2 million for screenings for uninsured and underinsured Kentuckians.
  • Provide $1 million to expand screenings through the Kentucky Cancer Program in the 2014-2016 executive budget to increase breast and cervical cancer screening among Kentucky women. The funding also helps women navigate the health care system.
  • Increase rates of HPV vaccination by 25% in order to reduce incidence of cervical, oral, and related cancers among men and women, through support for legislation requiring HPV vaccination among boys and girls as a condition of school attendance, along with partnering with stakeholders to implement a comprehensive educational campaign regarding safety, effectiveness and importance of the HPV vaccination for both girls and boys.
  • Support legislation banning tanning bed use by children under 18 to reduce the incidence of skin cancer.


Goal: Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths by 10%.

With more than 12,000 deaths per year, Kentucky ranks 48th in the nation in cardiovascular deaths. In addition to supporting the strategies listed above under Tobacco Use and Obesity, Governor Beshear will implement strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease, including:

  • Increase by 25% the proportion of adults receiving aspirin therapy in accordance with evidence-based guidelines.
  • Reduce the proportion of adults with uncontrolled hypertension by 10%.
  • Reduce the proportion of adults with hypertension who are current smokers by 10%.
  • Increase by 10% the proportion of adults who have had their blood cholesterol checked within the preceding 5 years.
  • Increase the percentage of individuals receiving evidence-based smoking cessation treatment by 50%.
  • Decrease the percentage of Kentuckians with diabetes whose most recent hemoglobin A1C level was greater than 9% during the preceding year, recognizing the link between diabetes and heart disease.
  • Support the ongoing efforts of the Kentucky CARE Collaborative, a statewide effort designed to provide blood pressure awareness education within communities.
  • Continue efforts to lower sodium intake in government-regulated facilities, given the link between sodium intake and cardiovascular disease.
  • Continue support for efforts of the Stroke Encounter Quality Improvement Project, a statewide voluntary initiative among hospitals to implement evidence-based integrated cardiovascular health systems in Kentucky.


Goal: Reduce the percentage of children with untreated dental decay by 25% and increase adult dental visits by 10%.

Kentucky’s dental problems have long been a source of ridicule, and have real and detrimental impacts on schoolchildren, the workforce and families. In fact, Kentucky ranks 41st in annual dental visits, 45th in the percentage of children with untreated dental decay (34.6%), and 47th in the percentage of adults 65+ missing 6 or more teeth (52.1%). Gov. Beshear proposes to tackle this problem with a number of strategies, including:

  • Increase pediatric dental visits by 25% by the end of 2015.
  • Partner with Managed Care Organizations to encourage increased utilization of dental services.
  • Create public-private partnerships to increase to 75% the proportion of students in grades 1-5 receiving twice yearly dental fluoride varnish application.
  • Increase by 25% the proportion of adults receiving fluoride varnish during an annual dental visit.
  • Increase by 25% the percentage of adults receiving medically indicated dental preventive and restorative services, including fillings and root canals, in accordance with evidence-based practices.
  • Partner with stakeholders to increase the number of dental practitioners in Kentucky by 25%.


Goal: Reduce deaths from drug overdose by 25% and reduce by 25% the average number of poor mental health days of Kentuckians.

With the third-highest drug overdose ranking in the nation, Gov. Beshear has worked tirelessly to reduce Kentuckians’ illegal use of prescription drugs. And while Kentucky ranks 49th in “poor mental health days,” which means days when people report limiting normal activity due to mental health difficulties, he has worked to protect funding for Kentucky mental health programs despite dramatic budget cuts in other areas of state government. Still, more needs to be done. Strategies to help reach these goals include:

  • Double the number of individuals receiving substance abuse treatment by the end of 2015.
  • Support legislation creating a “Good Samaritan Rule” for individuals seeking overdose treatment or assistance for others.
  • Expand access to naloxone by 100% among first responders and medical professionals to enable rapid administration of this life-saving treatment.
  • Increase by 50% the availability of substance treatment for adolescents.
  • Increase substance use disorder residential and intensive outpatient treatment capacity by 50%.
  • Partner with stakeholders to increase the number of credentialed substance use treatment professionals by 25%.
  • Create a more comprehensive and open access behavioral health network and increase by 25% the number of behavioral health providers eligible to seek reimbursement from Medicaid by the end of 2015.
  • Increase by 25% the percentage of adults and children receiving medically indicated behavioral health services by the end of 2015.
  • Increase the proportion of adults and adolescents who are screened for depression during primary care office visits by 10%.
  • Increase the proportion of persons with co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders who receive treatment for both disorders by 10%.
  • Partner with stakeholders to increase the use of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to 25% of medical providers (primary care, prenatal care providers, and emergency departments).