Health

Whether or not Idaho expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state needs to pour more money into the program.

prashant_zi / Flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today said the flu is now widespread in 47 states. That's up from 41 states the week before. 

Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho’s deputy state epidemiologist, says the Gem state is no exception.  “We’ve seen a steady rise in hospitalizations, doctor’s visits, so flu is here.”

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a plan by St. Luke's Health System to buy Saltzer Medical Group can move forward for now.

The Idaho Statesman reports that U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Thursday denied a request for a preliminary injunction by Saint Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital.

The two entities filed a federal lawsuit in November seeking to halt the deal, contending it would allow St. Luke's to dominate the market in Nampa and block referrals to St. Alphonsus.

Mike Crapo

Idaho's governor announced yesterday the state should build its own health insurance exchange rather than go with a federally- run model. Exchanges are online marketplaces that allow consumers to assess health insurance plans.  Under the Affordable Care Act, every state must have one by 2014.

Idaho has until the end of the week to decide whether or not to build its own health insurance exchange.  But some northwest states are already well on their way toward creating such an online marketplace. 

How Obamacare Creates An Insurance Industry Ad Blitz

Nov 30, 2012
Blue Cross of Idaho Ad
Sawyer Miller for Blue Cross of Idaho

One of Blue Cross of Idaho’s new television commercials opens with a chirpy jingle.  “You’re protected in the sun, you’re protected when it rains,” the song begins.  The pitch is clear: this is the insurer for you, no matter your lifestyle.

Lord Mariser / Flickr

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day.  In response, Southwest District Health will offer free HIV tests today in Caldwell.

The seven Idaho Health districts report more than 1,300 people in Idaho are currently living with HIV or AIDS.  Those are the people who know they have the infection.  Health officials want to reach people who haven’t been tested, and may be infected. 

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline began taking calls this week. The hotline is the first of its kind in Idaho since 2006, when state funding for the previous hotline ran out.

Up until Monday’s launch, Idahoans in crisis were routed to a call center in other western states. But executive director John Reusser says it’s important for people who are contemplating suicide to have an empathetic ear on the other end – someone who understands Idaho’s unique rural culture.

CDC Recommends Pertussis Vaccine For Expectant Moms

Oct 26, 2012
Health Vaccine
Ruby De Luna / KUOW

Public health experts are now recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine for whooping cough during pregnancy. The recommendation is in response to the growing outbreak of the infection in the U.S. So far, there are more than 32,000 reported cases of whooping cough across the country. If the trend holds, it’s on track to be the highest number of cases since 1959.

tschoppi / Flickr

Saint Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus hospitals are among the Idaho facilities that received drugs from a pharmacy in Massachusetts.  Officials today released the names of nine health providers in Idaho that got injectable drugs from the New England Compounding Center.   

It’s part of a nationwide investigation into a fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 15 people and sickened 233, including one man in Idaho.   

The first drug recall was for a steroid injection used for back pain.  It was believed that drug may have been contaminated with a fungus. 

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A nationwide investigation into contaminated drugs is expanding. The outbreak has already killed 15 and sickened 231, including one man in Idaho, with fungal meningitis.

Two health facilities in Idaho, Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett and Pain Specialists of Idaho in Idaho Falls, were identified originally in the outbreak.

Now the Food and Drug Administration has expanded its investigation of possibly contaminated drugs produced by a Massachusetts pharmacy. That means as many as nine more medical facilities in Idaho may have received suspect drugs.

prashant_zi / Flickr

An Eastern Idaho man has come down with fungal meningitis that has sickened 138 people across the country. 

Not much is known about the man.  He’s over sixty and he's being treated for his illness.  State Epidemiologist Doctor Christine Hahn says the man is the first in Idaho to get sick from the drug outbreak.  People in 11 states have become ill and 12 have died.  The injectable steroid comes from a company in Massachusetts which has recalled the drug. 

National Institutes of Health

We’ve been reporting on “spice” for months, as the popularity of the synthetic marijuana has continued to rise.  Now public health officials in the Northwest are raising concerns that spice has been linked to a series of kidney failure cases in the region.

The synthetic marijuana is sold under several street names including "spice" and "K2." It's made of a variety of plant material that's sprayed with a chemical meant to mimic the active substance in marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is banned under state and federal law.

prashant_zi / Flickr

Two Idaho medical facilities received the steroid injections believed to be responsible for a deadly meningitis outbreak.  Nationally, 47 people have been diagnosed with the illness and five people have died.  No one in Idaho has reported getting sick. 

IMAGEngineforAutism / Flickr

Between 97,000 and 111,000 additional Idahoans would be eligible for Medicaid if the state chooses to expand eligibility.  But where would those people come from?  Close to half would migrate from four other state programs already in place to help low-income residents with medical needs.

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