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About sixty people testified
Fri February 3, 2012
Budget Committee Hears From Idahoans
BOISE, Id – In a rare move, Idaho’s budget-writing committee heard public testimony today for only the third time in its history. About sixty people testified. Most were there to address last year’s Medicaid cuts and the need for a suicide hotline.
Many of those told personal stories of how the 35-million dollar cut to Idaho’s Medicaid Program has affected them. With the loss of federal funding, the cuts actually totaled 108-million.
Dakotah Parsons was among those who testified. The boy from Victor has autism. He told lawmakers the cuts mean he’s in danger of losing the help he receives from the state.
Dakotah Parsons “Please put some of the surplus money back in the Medicaid budget so that I can have a new helper and so I can continue to learn and grow up and be a scientist. I am an honor roll student, I try really help really hard to do my best, please help me.”
Those who testified also addressed the fact that Idaho is the only state without a suicide hotline. Rich Stover told budget-writers he was overseas with the National Guard when he got a call from his wife.
Rich Stover “She along with my ten-year old son had found my 19-year-old son Nick on the back porch with a gunshot wound to his head, he had just committed suicide. I know time really felt like it was in slow motion. I pray that no parents ever have to endure the pain of losing their children especially to suicide.”
Stover says he’s not sure such a hotline would have saved his son, but wishes it had been an option.
Help for the mentally ill was also cut in last year’s budget. Brian Hulet of Boise told lawmakers they may not recognize how the cuts hurt those with mental disorders.
Brian Hulet “Individuals who are faced to make a choice between treating their developmental disability or their mental health illness. In my mind this like choosing to treat diabetes or skin cancer. Neither are going to kill you right away, but they have serious effects on you.”
Governor Butch Otter has proposed a budget that does not restore last year’s Medicaid cuts. Budget lawmakers said it was important to hear today’s testimony, but offered no indication they’ll restore Medicaid funding.
Copyright 2012 BSPR