Health

Data: U.S. Census Bureau | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The share of uninsured Idahoans ticked up slightly in 2013, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Small Area Health Insurance Estimate from Census shows 18.8 percent of Idahoans under the age of  65 didn't have health insurance in 2013. That's the year before health insurance subsidies took effect through Idaho's insurance exchange.

Idaho ranked among the top 15 states with the most uninsured people, tying with Arkansas at 11. Census data show Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured people, while Texas had the highest.

According to the Census measure, Idaho's uninsured rate in 2012 was 18.5 percent.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

The company that manages mental health services for Idaho Medicaid patients is resuming a series of mental health trainings around the state. Optum has been doing what it calls mental health first aid classes for about a year. After taking a few months off, the classes begin in Weiser this Thursday.

tanakawho / Flickr

Idaho lawmakers are requesting the federal government to ensure that all genetically modified food labels are voluntary.

The Senate passed the non-binding resolution by voice vote Friday.

Republican Sen. Jim Rice from Caldwell told lawmakers that a patchwork of state labeling laws would be too complex for manufacturers and could raise food prices.

Rice says the Food and Drug Administration should make the rules standard across the county.

The House has already passed the request 41-24 last week.

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

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of Idahoans who went without health insurance fell by 4.7 percentage points.

The Idaho Statesman reports on a new Gallup poll that shows the Gem State saw a jump in insurance policies purchased in that timeframe. The uninsured rate went from 19.9 percent in 2013 to 15.2 percent the following year.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Mississippi has the nation’s highest kindergarten vaccination rate. Idaho’s rate is among the nation’s lowest.

What separates these two states — so often neighbors in national demographic rankings?

The answer can be found in the states’ laws. Mississippi essentially requires all parents to immunize their children before kindergarten. In Idaho, parents can use three different types of waivers to get out of immunizing their children. And Idaho schools have no recourse but to accept the paperwork and enroll these students.

Some Northwest lawmakers want to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

Lance McCord / Flickr Creative Commons

The Centers for Disease Control says a measles outbreak that spread from California's Disneyland has now reached 14 states and infected 102 people. No cases have been confirmed in Idaho, but many neighboring states are on the list including Utah, Washington and Oregon.

"We worry that it’s only a matter of time before we do see measles cases in Idaho," says Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's medical director for the division of public health.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Three new hot spots of bird flu have been found in wild ducks and domestic birds in Idaho.

A second Oregon case was confirmed last week in a wild duck near Eugene. And a flock of 118 birds was euthanized over the weekend in Port Angeles, Washington.

Government agriculture workers have taken out several large infected backyard flocks -- some with more than 100 birds.

Tyler / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials with Idaho's health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, say 83,383 people enrolled for insurance between November 15-December 31. That number includes people who were already enrolled and renewed their coverage, as well as new insurance customers.

Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly says the number of people signing on has had its ups and downs in the last two months, but he's pleased overall.

Amy / Flickr Creative Commons

Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream says it is voluntarily recalling nearly a year's worth of ice cream and related products because of possible listeria contamination. 

The recall announced Tuesday covers products made from Jan. 1 until Dec. 15. Products include all flavors and sizes of ice cream, gelato, custard and sorbet, as well as Emerald & Spruce Ice Cream and Top Pot Hand Forged Ice Cream.

Idaho Receives $40 Million Health Innovation Grant

Dec 16, 2014

Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare has been awarded a nearly $40 million federal grant to improve health outcomes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services announced 28 states will share $665 million in state innovation grants.

Idaho’s four-year innovation grant is meant to transition away from a fee-for-service system of health care delivery, to a value-based system.

Idaho's health department lists these seven items as its goals.

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

Your Health Idaho's executive director says nearly 74,000 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan on the state-based exchange.

Pat Kelly told exchange board members Tuesday that the number fell somewhere mid-range of the exchange's projections.

However, Kelly did not say how many of those enrolled for the first time. He also didn't mention how many people had submitted an application but had not yet selected a health plan.

Last year, roughly 76,000 people signed up on Idaho's exchange.

State of Idaho

A pilot project that could change the way Idahoans get treated during a mental health crisis has opened its doors in eastern Idaho. Officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony in Idaho Falls Monday morning.

hospital, medical, nurse
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A hospital in North Idaho is marketing itself to Canadian tourists -- medical tourists, that is.

Most of the patients who come into Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls, Idaho, are from the local area -- plus a few from Washington and Montana.

But hospital CEO Rick Rasmussen is thinking big -- Canada big. A little Canadian flag was recently added in the upper right of the hospital’s website.

Medical tourism boom

Mike K / Flickr

Health officials say there are 10 laboratory confirmed cases of mumps in Latah County and another 20 possible cases, a high number for the area.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports the cases include an elementary student as well as several college-aged students.

Mumps first appeared in 2014 on the Palouse in October, when two University of Idaho students were found to have the virus, followed by one Moscow elementary school student and several more UI students.

Public Health is investigating the situation.

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