Health

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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan from Congressional Republicans to replace Obamacare could result in a mass exodus from Idaho’s online health insurance exchange.

State officials say almost 60,000 people could leave the exchange under the new proposal. Your Health Idaho director Pat Kelly said Friday that’s because it removes tax credit subsidies and the requirement for individuals to have health insurance.

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Two bills related to faith healing were introduced at the Statehouse Wednesday. The Chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, Jeff Siddoway, said he’ll probably schedule a full public hearing for one or both of the competing measures.

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At least one member of Idaho's legislative delegation in Washington D.C. says he won't be supporting President Donald Trump's American Health Care Act.

Released by Republican lawmakers earlier this week, the new health care act is the much vaunted and long awaited replacement of former President Obama's healthcare law: the Affordable Care Act.

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Legislation designed to combat opioid addiction has been introduced in the Idaho Legislature.

Rep. John Gannon, a Democrat from Boise, said Monday his bill would slap a second-degree murder charge on anyone who sells heroin to a user who then directly or indirectly dies because of that sale.

The drastically increasing rates of painkiller and heroin abuse have alarmed public officials across the country, but lawmakers have repeatedly struggled to find the right solution as advocacy groups have pushed states to do more.

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More than 123,000 people in the country need an organ transplant. And it turns out Idahoans are signing up in big numbers on the donation list.

According to figures released Monday, the Idaho Transportation Department says more Idahoans, 64 percent, sign up to donate their organs, compared to the national average of 51 percent.

In 2016, Idahoans donated 169 organs to those in need. That’s up from 113 in 2015.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is particularly widespread and acute in the Gem State this year. Ten people over the age of 50 have died from the flu so far this season in Idaho.

Boise’s Saint Alphonsus Medical Center reports seeing a spike in instances of flu this January compared to the same month last year. A spokesperson tells the Statesman the hospital has seen a 300 percent increase in cases of the illness.

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Women will no longer be banned from receiving abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine in Idaho under a newly reached agreement.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands announced Monday that the lawsuit settlement lifts unnecessary burdens on women seeking safe abortions.

The organization's lawsuit was directed at two laws passed in 2015 that required doctors to be present when administering pregnancy-ending pills.

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A southern Idaho man is the first person to die in the state from the flu this season.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports the man was over the age of 50 and died from an influenza-related illness. He’s the first person in Idaho to die in the 2016-2017 season.

Last flu season, 26 people died from the flu in Idaho. The average number of deaths in a year in the Gem State is 23. In the 2012-2013 season, 35 people died.

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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is expanding its services by adding an additional phone line for people to call in crisis.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the new phone number will also accept text messages Mondays through Fridays, between 3 p.m. and midnight. Organizers announced the additional services on Monday.

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Idaho health officials plan to ask lawmakers for about $11 million annually to provide mental health and drug abuse services to the state's parole offenders who are at the highest risk of returning to prison.

Tom Shanahan, a spokesman with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, says the state is currently spending around $30,000 annually to serve the estimated 7,300 offenders identified with high mental health needs.

The department will make the request during the 2017 legislative session.

Federal officials say approximately 15,000 Idahoans may be eligible for tax credits if they purchase insurance through the state's health care exchange rather than skip the marketplace again while picking 2017 coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that only residents who bought their 2017 plans on the Your Health Idaho website are qualified for a tax subsidy.

Health officials say the tax credits were designed to make coverage more affordable and protect consumers from the impact of rate increases.

A Nampa nursing home is under fire after a state investigation found residents were being mistreated.

The Idaho Statesman reports that an Idaho Health and Welfare Department report cited Holly Lane Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center for widespread problems that investigators say threatening the health and safety of residents and failed to protect them from abuse and negligence.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As KBSX reported Wednesday, the biggest health risk associated with high levels of nitrates in drinking water is a condition called methemoglobinemia, which can make infants six months and younger sick. Babies who drink formula using nitrate-contaminated water are at risk of developing the condition.

Screenshot from video by Jason Urry / St. Lukes

Last month we told you the story of a Twin Falls doctor, who was once paralyzed, but was able to climb Idaho's tallest mountain. Now you can watch a video of his inspiring climb.

Jonathon Myers broke his neck ten years ago in a car accident. Paralyzed from the neck down, he fought back and learned how to walk again. He went to medical school and specialized in rehabilitation.

Idaho is working to reduce suicides in the state with a new $1 million program.

The Spokesman-Review reports that lawmakers this year allocated ongoing funding and changed the law that governs the mission of the state Department of Health and Welfare to specifically include suicide prevention.

To celebrate the ongoing efforts, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter on Thursday declared this week Suicide Prevention Week in the city.

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A hospital trying to raise money for a high-tech piece of equipment to help its patients might be newsworthy. Someone who was once paralyzed and is now climbing Idaho’s tallest mountain certainly would be. Now a Twin Falls doctor who thought he’d never walk again is climbing Borah Peak Wednesday in order to raise money for a machine to help his patients learn to walk again.

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Health officials say they have discovered E. coli bacteria in several private wells south of Nampa.

Southwest District Health says six out of 11 households tested positive for the bacteria. There have been no reports of illness connected to the outbreak.

The agency is working the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to determine the source of the contamination.

Residents within 1,000 feet of the contaminated wells have been notified of health risks.

Health officials are advising private well users to get their water tested.

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Idaho state health officials say an Idaho woman who recently traveled to Mexico has been infected with the Zika virus.

The virus is carried by two types of mosquitoes which don't live in Idaho but are found in hotter climates. In a statement issued Wednesday, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials said there is no danger to the general public of developing Zika through casual contact.

According to the press release the infected woman is from northern Idaho and over the age of 60. She had symptoms but did not require hospitalization.

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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Officials with Your Health Idaho say they are actively working to ensure that customers don't see another delay in receiving a critical tax form needed to prove health coverage and avoid a tax penalty.

The state's health insurance exchange failed this year to distribute the forms by the required Jan. 31 deadline. The exchange also issued thousands of corrections because of inaccurate information on the forms.

While all customers eventually received their correct forms before April 15, officials have raised concerns about the same challenges occurring next year.

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Sawyer Miller for Blue Cross of Idaho

If you buy your own health insurance rather than getting it from an employer, you’ll probably pay more for it next year, maybe a lot more. Health insurance carriers have told the Idaho Department of Insurance what changes they want to make to plans next year and the department has posted those proposed changes on its website. Six insurers want to make substantial rate increases that average 27 percent.

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