Health Care

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

A combative and sometimes angry crowd challenged Republican Rep. Raul Labrador during his town hall Wednesday night.

Labrador answered questions about everything from Planned Parenthood to public lands. At one point, he was asked whether he believes health care is a human right, to which the crowd responded with loud boos.  

“So no I do not believe that health care is a basic right," says Labrador. "When something is a right it’s something that must be provided by the government.”

Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press

As we wrap up the 11th week of the 2017 Idaho Legislative Session, lawmakers have been struggling to finish up their work and go home. For several weeks, the goal has been to end the session Friday. House Speaker Scott Bedke said on Thursday lawmakers will have to come back on Monday.

This week lawmakers struggled with a large transportation funding bill. They tried and failed to pass a bill that would have helped some of the 78,000 people in Idaho who can’t afford health insurance. And tax cuts are still a sticking point.

Kevin Rank / Flickr

Bills were flying fast and furious in and out of the Idaho House and Senate this week, as lawmakers try to meet next Friday’s deadline to wrap up the session and go home.

As week ten of the legislature comes to a close, lawmakers still haven’t solved the Medicaid Gap in Idaho. Those are the people who can’t afford health care but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Transportation funding and a tax cut are also still in the mix.

Boise State University political science professor Gary Moncrief says there are still around 100 bills to be considered in the House and Senate.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

At least one member of Idaho's legislative delegation in Washington D.C. says he won't be supporting President Donald Trump's American Health Care Act.

Released by Republican lawmakers earlier this week, the new health care act is the much vaunted and long awaited replacement of former President Obama's healthcare law: the Affordable Care Act.

AP

Idaho residents flocked to the Capitol Friday to urge lawmakers to provide health care to the state's neediest citizens, address Idaho's medical transportation system and reform religious exemptions.

The testimony was part of the annual listening session hosted by the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees.

Kate Haake / AP Images

On Friday, Boise State University released a survey that examined the attitudes of Idahoans on key policy issues. The second-annual survey included views from 1,000 Idahoans.

 

Boise State political science professor Justin Vaughn directed the research team for the survey. Vaughn says they were careful to poll people from different parts of the state, evenly polling both cell and landline phone users.

AP

Monday afternoon, Governor Butch Otter delivers his "State of the State" address, as the 2017 legislature kicks off. Education is expected to be one of his primary topics. Although the so-called health care gap was a hot topic last year, it's not expected to be as big a focus this time around.

Tom Kelly/Flickr

A small group of Idaho lawmakers say the Republican-dominated Legislature must find a way to provide health care to the state's low-income uninsured population in 2017.

However, the legislative panel fell short from backing a specific proposal during its final meeting on Tuesday. Instead, lawmakers agreed on broad recommendations, such as urging a sunset provision if the Idaho Legislature does consider Medicaid expansion and promoting using general funds to help cover any new program costs.

Federal officials say approximately 15,000 Idahoans may be eligible for tax credits if they purchase insurance through the state's health care exchange rather than skip the marketplace again while picking 2017 coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that only residents who bought their 2017 plans on the Your Health Idaho website are qualified for a tax subsidy.

Health officials say the tax credits were designed to make coverage more affordable and protect consumers from the impact of rate increases.

A Nampa nursing home is under fire after a state investigation found residents were being mistreated.

The Idaho Statesman reports that an Idaho Health and Welfare Department report cited Holly Lane Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center for widespread problems that investigators say threatening the health and safety of residents and failed to protect them from abuse and negligence.

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

Idaho lawmakers are eligible for the same health care benefits as full-time state employees even though they are considered part-time workers.

The Idaho Statesman reports that 90 out of Idaho's 105 lawmakers are enrolled in the state's health care plan. State records show that 30 of the 35 Senate members and 60 of the 70 House members are enrolled.

The 14 percent opt-out rate inside the Legislature is higher than the state's workforce, where just about 8 percent of employees don't take the state-provided benefits.

Blue Cross of Idaho Ad
Sawyer Miller for Blue Cross of Idaho

If you buy your own health insurance rather than getting it from an employer, you’ll probably pay more for it next year, maybe a lot more. Health insurance carriers have told the Idaho Department of Insurance what changes they want to make to plans next year and the department has posted those proposed changes on its website. Six insurers want to make substantial rate increases that average 27 percent.

St Luke's Hospital Sign
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A U.S. Department of Labor investigation found that one of Idaho’s largest employers was systematically violating the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Labor Department says St Luke’s Medical Center failed to ensure that employees received FMLA protections.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

We learned last week that Idaho could get its first medical school two years from now. But the announcement that it would be a school of osteopathic medicine left a lot of people wondering just what that is. Everybody knows what an M.D. is. But you may not know that an M.D. has a degree in allopathic medicine. Someone with a degree in osteopathic medicine is a D.O.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building House Chambers
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Last month, Idaho Governor Butch Otter proposed a plan to provide health care to the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who don’t qualify for either Medicaid or subsidized health insurance under Idaho’s health exchange. The Primary Care Access Program would've subsidized basic doctor visits for those people, but last week a legislative committee voted against using tobacco settlement money to partially fund the $30 million proposal.

County Health Rankings

You’re more likely to live past the age of 75 in Washington than you are in Idaho. That’s according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. The report analyzes states – and the counties within them – on a range of measures.

This program was originally broadcast in April of 2015.

Antibiotics are wonder drugs that can thwart disease and save lives. But they also have the potential to trigger new health problems when used indiscriminately, according to medical doctor and microbiologist Martin J. Blaser.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Attorneys representing Idaho inmates in a class action lawsuit over prison health care told a federal judge Wednesday that prison officials intentionally misled a court-appointed examiner and the department should be punished by the court.

But attorneys for the state denied the inmates' claims and countered that the allegations are based on incomplete evidence that has been taken out of context.

Omar Bárcena / Flickr

Idaho's online insurance exchange needs to collect $9 million in revenue by the summer of 2017 or risk dipping into its limited reserves in order to stay in business.

The federal government stopped providing funding for state-based exchanges on Jan. 1. This means the 13 states currently operating their own exchange must find a way to become sustainable.

A.Currell / Flickr

As Idaho gets ready for the third year of using a state health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are still adapting to the new system. This month, those companies announced some proposed rate increases for insurance policies next year.

The Associated Press reported last week that Blue Cross of Idaho has asked for the most rate hikes.

“[That’s] simply because we offer more plan options for people,” says Josh Jordan, manager of Corporate Communications with Blue Cross of Idaho. He says every insurance carrier in the state asked for increases.

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