Health

Healthcare
6:01 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Idaho’s Suicide Hotline Expands Hours

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Since the end of October, Idaho's Suicide Prevention hotline has fielded more than 800 calls. Now, the year-old hotline is expanding its hours of operation and may soon receive national accreditation.

The suicide prevention hotline continues to see an upward trend in the number of people calling for support. Currently, volunteers from Idaho answer the phone from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, all calls to 1-800-273-TALK are answered by people out of state.

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Insurance
4:14 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Idaho Health Insurance Companies Can Extend Policies, But It's Not Required

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is telling Idaho health insurance companies it's up to them whether they want to extend canceled policies.

Last month, millions of people around the country and in Idaho got notices cancelling their insurance policies. Insurance companies said those plans had to be dropped, because they did not comply with new standards under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

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Health Insurance
2:41 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Idaho’s Health Insurance Exchange Director Is Pleased With Initial Enrollment

Amy Dowd is director of Idaho's insurance exchange, YourHealthIdaho.org.
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Since Idaho’s health insurance exchange launched on October 1, just 7 percent of applicants chose to enroll for subsidized coverage. Amy Dowd is at the helm of operating Idaho's marketplace, and she's pleased with enrollment in the first month.

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Health
9:40 am
Wed November 20, 2013

3 'Toxic' Drugs Slated For Idaho's Illegal List

Three versions of a synthetic hallucinogenic drug appear bound for Idaho's list of illegal substances after the federal Drug Enforcement Administration placed them on the same list as marijuana, heroin and LSD.

The federal drug agency made the announcement on Tuesday for drugs known by their street names that include 25i, Smiles, and N-Bomb.

For substances declared by the federal government as among the most dangerous drugs, Idaho law requires the Idaho State Board of Pharmacy to control the substance after 30 days — unless state regulators find reason to object.

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Policy
11:44 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Idaho Business Group Urges State To Consider Private Insurance Through Medicaid

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho business group urged Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to study how Arkansas won permission from Washington, D.C., to use federal Medicaid funding to help poor people buy private insurance.

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry sent Otter a letter Friday, calling Arkansas' program a "market solution" that was of great interest to members that include hospitals St. Luke's Health System and Saint Alphonsus Health System.

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Health Insurance
1:57 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Idaho Mulling Whether To Extend Health Insurance Policies

Bill Deal is director of the Idaho Department of Insurance.
Credit Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Department of Insurance director Bill Deal said he's likely to announce Monday whether his state will adopt President Barack Obama's proposal to extend old health insurance policies that otherwise would be canceled.

Through a spokeswoman on Friday, Deal said he's in discussions with Idaho insurers offering policies to individuals on how such a move would impact the state's health coverage marketplace.

President Obama on Thursday said he'd allow insurance companies to keep selling their old plans to people whose policies were going to be canceled.

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Health Insurance
10:43 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Slow Start, Mixed Results For Health Care Law In Northwest

A screengrab of Washington's health plan finder website.
Washington Health Benefit Exchange

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 11:38 am

The first numbers on enrollment under the new health care law confirm a slow start and mixed results in Northwest states.

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Health Insurance
1:44 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

338 Idahoans Have Signed Up For Coverage Through Insurance Exchange

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Just 338 people have selected health coverage via Idaho's insurance exchange during its glitch-plagued first month.

Your Health Idaho's enrollee figures were released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which also gave statistics for the nation's other exchanges.

In total, 106,185 people in the United States have selected plans.

President Obama's administration has predicted about 7 million people will get coverage via exchanges in 2014, with Idaho accounting for 40,000 of that figure.

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Health
3:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

So, You Have Gonorrhea. Who Tells Your Ex?

Illustration by Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 8:48 pm

In an effort to stop a spate of gonorrhea outbreaks, at least one public health department in the Pacific Northwest is offering a helpful service to infected patients: anonymous notification of former sexual partners.

That's right. A government worker will track down and contact each ex for you. Awkward for all concerned? Yes. But at a time when gonorrhea is becoming stubbornly drug-resistant, health officials see it as time — and embarrassment — well spent.

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Health
3:05 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Idaho Health Exchange Will Keep Taxpayer Funded Contract Review Secret

Board members of the Idaho health insurance exchange said Tuesday that they will keep secret the findings of a $15,000 taxpayer-funded investigation into how one of its own members won a lucrative no-bid contract.

Your Health Idaho board chairman Stephen Weeg said the two-week-long review by a private lawyer uncovered "lapses in judgment," though nothing illegal. Exchange executive director Amy Dowd last month awarded a technology contract worth up to $375,000 to board member Frank Chan, who quit the same day the contract was announced.

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Health
9:53 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Uptick In Measles Cases Highlights Need For Vaccination

File photo. Recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.
Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 6:19 pm

Public health officials say recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.

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Health
8:28 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Report: Most Idaho Kids Don’t Get Screened For Developmental Problems

Developmental screening questionnaires ask about children's fine and gross motor skills as well as cognitive and social skills.
Credit tanakawho / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than 30 percent of Idaho kids get developmental screenings recommended by doctors. That’s according to a report out this week from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get screened for developmental problems at nine-months-old, 18-to-24 months and at 30 months.

Perry Brown, pediatric education director at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho says those screenings are questionnaires doctors give to parents. Brown leafs through a file and pulls one out for parents of a 24-month-old.

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Health Insurance
6:01 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

With An Unreliable Federal Health Exchange Website, Idaho Offers Old-School Solutions

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Because the federal heath insurance exchange website has been plagued by troubles including outages, the head of Idaho's marketplace says the state is stepping up to make it easier for people to sign up for health insurance.

Amy Dowd leads Your Health Idaho, the state’s health insurance exchange. Until next year, Idaho is using the federal portal to sign up consumers online.

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Health
10:25 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Poor Idaho School Brings Health Care To Students

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A southwestern Idaho school district is building an in-school medical clinic at Meridian's poorest elementary school in an effort to boost student health and reduce absenteeism.

Meridian School District Superintendent Linda Clark told the Idaho Statesman that the clinic will be the first in-school clinic in Idaho.

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Insurance Exchange
6:59 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Independent Review Of Idaho Exchange Contract Could Take A Week

A lawyer hired to review how Idaho insurance exchange leaders awarded a no-bid, $375,000 contract to a board member says he'll be finished within a week.

Fred Mack, a corporate governance specialist at a Boise law firm, said Wednesday the bill for his investigation of the contract between Your Health Idaho director Amy Dowd and former board member Frank Chan won't exceed $15,000.

Last week, Chan canceled his contract to manage a big exchange technology project.

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Health Insurance
6:39 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Idaho Gov. Otter Requests 1 Year Delay Of Health Insurance Mandate

Credit Aaron Kunz / Boise State Public Radio

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter wants the requirement for everybody to have insurance by 2014 delayed 12 months amid glitches in Internet health care exchanges across the nation, including Idaho.

Idaho is currently relying on federal software to enroll people in coverage via its Your Health Idaho insurance exchange.

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Smoking
1:04 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Idaho's Attorney General Wants To Regulate E-Cigarettes

Credit nicoasnova / Flickr

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and 39 of his colleagues want tougher regulations for electronic cigarettes. The group hopes the federal government will act by Halloween.

The group sent a letter in September to the Food and Drug Administration. In it, the Attorneys General say e-cigarettes use nicotine, which is an addictive substance.

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Drug Abuse
9:09 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Idaho Launches New Campaign To Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

Credit Ed Wohlfahrt / Flickr Creative Commons

  Idaho's drug czar has launched a new campaign focused on the abuse and myths of prescription drug abuse.

Office of Drug Policy Administrator Elisha Figueroa announced the campaign Monday in coordination with the Idaho Prescription Drug Abuse Workgroup.

Together, the groups are getting behind a statewide multimedia blitz to educate teens and adults on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.

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Health Insurance Exchange
4:39 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Contract With Former Health Exchange Board Member Criticized

An Idaho lawmaker called it "totally inappropriate" for the state's Internet insurance exchange to award a no-bid contract worth up to $375,000 to a member of its board of directors.

Sen. Jim Rice, a Canyon County Republican who sits on Your Health Idaho's 19-member board, on Friday criticized the decision by exchange executive director Amy Dowd to give board member Frank Chan the $180 per hour contract to oversee a big technology project.

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Health Insurance Exchange
3:49 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Health Exchange Board Member Quits, Gets Contract Worth Up To $375,000

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho insurance exchange board member resigned the same day he got a contract worth up to $375,000 annually to oversee a multi-million technology project with the Internet insurance marketplace.

Frank Chan resigned from the Your Health Idaho board Wednesday.

Chan's company will get $180 hourly to oversee the exchange's technology vendors as Your Health Idaho switches from a software system provided by the federal government to a state-based system to take applications for health care coverage.

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