Air Quality
2:04 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Ketchum's Air Quality "Hazardous," Treasure Valley Gets More Smoke

Credit Anne Jefferey / InciWeb

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is warning people in the Wood River Valley to stay indoors and avoid physical activity. This comes after smoke from nearby wildfires has engulfed the area. The Beaver Creek Fire is burning just southwest of Ketchum in the Sawtooth National Forest.

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Idaho Health Exchange
11:30 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Website Will Use Federal Security Technology

Credit Alex E. Proimos / Flickr Creative Commons

The Spokesman-Review reported Sunday that the Legislature’s decision to build an entirely state-based exchange in March came too late. Jody Olson with the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange says for the first year, Idaho will use some federal resources to maintain the state’s health exchange website.

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Affordable Care Act
1:02 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Idaho Picks Up $20 Million For Health Insurance Exchange

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s health insurance exchange picked up more than $20 million today.  The grant came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The exchange’s executive director, Amy Dowd, said the money will help Idaho build its own online health insurance marketplace.

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Insurance Exchange
8:47 am
Fri August 2, 2013

5 Companies To Offer 134 Plans On Idaho's Health Insurance Exchange

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Five companies will offer health insurance via Idaho's online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to get coverage.

The Idaho Statesman reports the companies offering insurance over the insurance exchange are Altius, Blue Cross of Idaho, BridgeSpan, PacificSource and SelectHealth.

BridgeSpan was created by Regence Blue Shield.

No prices have been announced for the 134 plans, but the average is $240 monthly, according to an earlier announcement.

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Breast Feeding
11:36 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Idaho Has The Largest Percentage Of Breast-Feeding Moms

The CDC says 91.8 percent of Idaho moms breastfeed for some period of time.
Credit JCarter / Flickr Creative Commons

Health officials say breast-feeding rates continue to inch up: Now more than 3 in 4 mothers try to breast-feed their newborns.

Breast-feeding rates remain highest in Idaho (91.8 percent) and lowest in Mississippi (50.5 percent). Experts attribute that to regional differences in culture and workplace policies that support breast-feeding.

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11:21 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Idaho Gets Federal Money To Fight Substance Abuse

Credit Ed Wohlfahrt / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal government is chipping in another $1.5 million annually over the next five years to help Idaho's efforts to fight substance abuse.

The state Office of Drug Policy announced the total $7.5 million grant on Monday.

Elisha Figueroa, administrator of the Office of Drug Policy, says the cash will help bolster community-level substance abuse prevention strategies and improve Idaho's prevention infrastructure.

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Health Care
4:53 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Northwest Health Exchanges Are Big Money Ventures

Cover Oregon

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 5:47 pm

Nearly $500 million.

That’s how much the federal government has awarded Washington, Oregon and Idaho to create health benefit exchanges. These are the new web portals to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a costly undertaking that involves six-figure salaries, hefty IT contracts and high-end advertising campaigns.

If a green, talking gecko can sell car insurance, then maybe Portland-based folk singer Laura Gibson can sell health insurance.

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Health Insurance Exchange
10:47 am
Fri June 28, 2013

The Average Cost Of Insurance Under Idaho's New Health Exchange Announced

Health coverage policies sold via Idaho's insurance exchange will cost an average of $240 per month, a figure based on the price tag of proposed policies submitted to the state Department of Insurance by insurers aiming to participate.

The figure, announced Thursday in Boise by the exchange board, is merely an average.

It doesn't reflect rates policy holders will actually pay, depending on their financial circumstances, eligibility for federal subsidies or their benefits package.

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11:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Oregon Votes To Make Immunization Opt-Out Tougher


Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 4:51 pm

  Oregon parents could soon find it harder to skip having their children immunized.

The Oregon House Wednesday sent a measure to the governor that would add steps to the way parents can opt out of the requirement. A similar law went into effect in Washington state two years ago.

More than 6 percent of Oregon children enter kindergarten without the required number of vaccines. That rate is among the highest in the nation, and it has public health officials concerned.

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1:54 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Vote To Ban Smoking In Cars With Children Present


Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 6:11 pm

Oregon lawmakers signed off Monday on a measure that makes it illegal to smoke in a car when there are children present. Drivers could only be ticketed for the offense if they've already been pulled over for something else.

Supporters include Republican representative Jim Thompson. He told colleagues that the bill seeks to protect children from an obvious harm.

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Public Health
4:49 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Frozen Fruit Sold In Idaho Linked To Hepatitis Outbreak

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says berries sold at Costco stores may be linked to an outbreak of hepatitis.

The frozen berry brand, 'Townsend Farms organic Anti-Oxidant Blend', has been pulled from Costco's shelves, and the store says to toss out any remaining product.

Although Idaho Costco stores carry these frozen berries, the health department says illness associated with the fruit hasn't been reported in Idaho.

Here's more information from the Department of Health and Welfare:

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Service Dog
6:00 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Service Dog: An Idaho Army Veteran Works To Help Others Find Therapy Dogs

Awescar the service dog
Samantha Wright Boise State Public Radio

This week we've been bringing you the story of Idaho Army veteran Dan Sperry and his service dog Awescar.  This large labradoodle has had a major role in helping Dan cope with post traumatic stress disorder.

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Service Dog
7:46 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Service Dog: An Idaho Army Veteran Struggles With Post Traumatic Stress

Dan and Angie Sperry
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

This week we are bringing you the story of Dan Sperry. He's a U.S. Army veteran from Idaho and for the last two decades he's lived with post traumatic stress disorder or P.T.S.D.  We met Dan in 2010 and began to record his story of how he's found a new life by using a service dog

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StateImpact Idaho
11:41 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Mental Health, Preventive Care, And The Debate Over Medicaid Expansion In Idaho

Mitch Ponting is grateful he's doing well, and building relationships with his family.
Credit Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

When the 2013 legislative session wraps up, a big policy question will remain: Will the state make Medicaid available to a greater number of Idaho’s poor? The federal health care law encourages that move. It’s a debate that involves potential costs and savings, along with patient well-being. And it turns quickly to chronic conditions, like mental illness.

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Alzheimer's Disease
3:38 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Idaho Lawmakers Asked To Consider Statewide Alzheimer’s Plan

Boise State University professor Troy Rohn is a member of the Idaho Alzheimer's Planning Group
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last year, we told you about a group of stakeholders working together to create a state plan to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families.  The Idaho Alzheimer's Planning Group has now released that plan. 

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Worker Safety
5:32 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

NPR Report Takes Stock Of Grain Bin Deaths Across U.S. Including Idaho

Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio/StateImpact Idaho

This week an NPR  series has focused on worker deaths in grain storage bins around the country.  Now the Justice Department and others are beginning to respond. NPR reports Friday the Department will again consider criminal charges in a case of a boy who died in a grain bin three years ago in Illinois.

Idaho has had its share of tragedies in grain bins.

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Health Insurance Exchange
8:51 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Idaho House Could Be In For Lengthy Debate On Health Exchange

The Idaho House of Representatives could be in for a marathon debate over the latest state-based health insurance exchange plan. The  discussion will start Wednesday  morning, less than a month after the Senate spent nearly six hours debating a similar proposal.

Idaho Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill joked Tuesday the debate in the House over an online insurance marketplace could be twice as long since that chamber has double the Legislators.

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6:31 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Government Sues Over St. Luke's Acquisition Of Nampa Practice

Credit St. Luke's

The Treasure Valley’s largest healthcare provider reacted Tuesday to a decision from the Idaho Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission to sue over a deal the agencies think would stifle competition. 

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5:32 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Republican Lawmaker Wants To Expand Medicaid In Idaho

Thomas F. Loertscher
Credit State of Idaho

A Republican lawmaker says he will bring forward a bill to expand Idaho's Medicaid program this week. That's after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said lawmakers should wait on the issue.

Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Bone) plans to introduce two bills on Thursday.

One would dissolve Idaho's Catastrophic Health Care Program. That's the program that helps medically indigent Idahoans who don't qualify for state or federal health care aid.

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Suicide Prevention
8:11 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline Needs More Funds To Take Calls At Night

Credit Michael Caroe Anderson / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than three months after its launch, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is expanding its hours. Starting today volunteers will take calls Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

So far, the suicide hotline has taken about 160 calls since November. Executive Director John Reusser says there’s no question the hotline has helped many Idahoans in crisis.

Reusser says the hotline’s next goal is to launch a marketing campaign to connect with people around the state. That campaign will likely begin next week.  

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