Health

Amy Dowd
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

New Mexico's health insurance exchange is hiring an Idaho official to run the online marketplace as it prepares for the next round of enrollment.

The exchange's board of director voted Friday to select Amy Dowd as its chief executive officer. Dowd has been executive director of Idaho's insurance exchange since last year.

The board is finalizing a contract with Dowd and it's uncertain when she will start her new job.

Interim CEO Mike Nunez has been running New Mexico's exchange since it was created last year.

Sint Smeding / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (ISPH) is one step closer to being a fulltime crisis line. 

Thursday hotline staff announced they received a $50,000 grant from the United Way of the Treasure Valley. ISPH Executive Director John Reusser says the award will go a long way in helping the hotline become a 24/7 resource. He says the United Way first gave them funds when they started in 2012. 

"The United Way has been very supportive," says Reusser. "This donation will help fund operations as we get through the last leg of expansion."

A $1.5 million state-funded behavioral-health crisis center will be built in Idaho Falls in eastern Idaho

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter made the announcement Thursday morning at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

Boise in southwestern Idaho and Coeur d'Alene in northern Idaho had also been in the running for the center.

The center is intended to serve as a safety net to treat at-risk mentally ill people whose symptoms often land them in hospitals or jail.

cigarette, tobacco
SuperFantastic / Flickr Creative Commons

Smokefree Idaho has withdrawn its support of a southwest Idaho city's proposed smoking ban after city leaders adopted a less restrictive version.

Spokeswoman Stacy Satterlee tells the Idaho Statesman in a story on Wednesday that the amendments the Garden City Council adopted Monday mean the ordinance no longer protects all workers from secondhand smoke.

The council moved ahead with a ban on smoking in most indoor public places but not in bars and bingo halls for people age 21 and over.

The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a district court's decision Tuesday ordering a Boise hospital to pay more than $52 million for violating a partnership it had with an MRI company.

The decision is the latest development in the St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center's lawsuit involving one the largest awards to come out of Idaho district courts.

Boise VA Medical Center

In the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' medical scandal that's forced patients to wait for care, a new audit shows Boise’s VA Medical Center scored well in some areas, and not so well in others.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says a decision about where to build a $1.5 million state-funded behavioral-health crisis center will likely be within a week.

Spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr tells the Post Register that a committee is reviewing proposals from three cities.

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

A new audit from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows that most Idaho veterans receiving care at the Boise VA Medical Center wait less than a month for their first appointment. But the average wait time for those who need to see a specialist is 52 days.

The wide-ranging audit, released Monday, is the first nationwide look at the VA network after an outcry arose over long wait times and cover-ups at the Phoenix VA center.

One of the largest concert venues in the Northwest is in trouble with the Washington State Department of Health. The Gorge Amphitheater turns into a small city during summer music festivals like Sasquatch and Paradiso.

Memorial Day weekend in the Northwest coincides with prime time for ticks. These arthropods can drink your blood for days without you knowing.

Mike Lieberman / Flickr Creative Commons

Health officials say they are investigating an outbreak of illnesses due to E. coli in northern Idaho and eastern Washington state that has sickened 10 people and caused five of them to be hospitalized.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in a statement Wednesday says an initial investigation found the outbreak might be connected to people eating raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Idaho.

Officials are recommending people not eat raw clover sprouts from the company until additional information is known.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Many republican governors have taken a stand against Obamacare by refusing to expand Medicaid. Utah, which is one of the most republican states in the nation, remains undecided. But in a state where the majority of the population are Mormons, one bishop from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says helping the poor is a moral obligation. Andrea Smardon from member station KUER in Salt Lake City has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHECKOUT SCANNER)

medical image
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's health insurance exchange announced Monday that more than 76,000 Idahoans have signed up for coverage through the new online marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. 

“We are very, very pleased with the outcomes for our six months of the launch of Your Health Idaho,” said Executive Director Amy Dowd.

Dowd says the Congressional Budget Office wanted to have 40,000 Idahoans sign up through the exchange during the first six-month open-enrollment period. Your Health Idaho exceeded that target by more than 36,000 people.

Charles Williams / Flickr Creative Commons

The practice of doctors treating patients over the phone, online or by videoconferencing is a growing subset of the health care system.

The Idaho Legislature passed a bill this year calling for stakeholders to set state standards for the practice of telemedicine. Lawmakers see telemedicine as an option to bring health care to sparsely populated rural areas and address a severe doctor shortage in the state.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

State auditors say the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare misspent $2.5 million in federal funding on salaries instead of using it for food stamps and other assistance for Idaho's poorest residents.

The finding by the Office of Performance Evaluation was part of the state's annual audit of how federal cash is used.

St. Luke's Health System

St. Luke's Health System has been handed a $10 million bill for a lawsuit the hospital lost, according to the Idaho Statesman.  

You only have until the end of this month to sign up for coverage using one of the new health insurance exchanges.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says nearly 44,000 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan on Your Health Idaho.

The agency says Idaho remains second in the nation per capita for the number of people selecting plans on the exchange.

The latest numbers show a 33 percent increase from one month ago.

The enrollment period ends on March 31.

St. Luke's

A Boise-area hospital and Idaho's largest independent physicians' practice are seeking to reverse a federal judge's ruling that their joining forces violated federal antitrust laws.

St. Luke's Health System and Nampa-based Saltzer Medical Group on Tuesday filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Boise to stay the court ruling pending an appeal.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in January ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center and the Federal Trade Commission.

medical, stethoscope
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Sign-ups in Idaho's insurance exchange accelerated in January, rising to 32,899 as more people sought health care coverage as the March 31 enrollment deadline approaches.

The federal government reported Wednesday Your Health Idaho enrollment amounted to the second-highest per capita in the country, with only Vermont's numbers topping those of the Gem State.

Exchange spokeswoman Jody Olson said the figures are positive, but urged residents currently without insurance to seek coverage required under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overhaul.

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