Health Care

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed legislation that will ban Idaho women from receiving abortion-inducing drugs via telemedicine.

The new law signed on Monday requires a doctor to be physically present when giving pregnancy-ending pills. But telemedicine is not even currently available in the state.

The law also requires doctors to make efforts to schedule a follow-up visit with the woman after administering the drugs.

Morgan / Flickr Creative Commons

Latinos in Idaho experience barriers that make the process of enrolling in healthcare through the state's  insurance exchange more challenging. That's according to a report released Thursday by a liberal advocacy group, the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN).

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The budget for Idaho’s behavioral health division includes funding for a second mental health crisis center.

The Spokesman-Review's Eye on Boise blog reports the Department of Health and Welfare’s budget plan includes $1.7 million for the 24-hour crisis center.

The crisis centers are meant to keep people out of jail or hospital emergency rooms, and instead connect them with appropriate mental health care services.

Legislation requiring genetic counselors to be licensed in Idaho has cleared both chambers in the Statehouse.

The Idaho House approved the licensing bill 45-25 on Tuesday. The proposal is now headed to the governor's desk.

The legislation creates a licensing system by having a three-member oversight board, as well as licensing requirements for genetic counselors.

screen grab wallethub.com

According to the financial website WalletHub, Idaho is the 9th worst state for women. Lists ranking states on various things come out almost daily and we don’t often report on them, and WalletHub in particular is a list juggernaut. But this one caught our eye.

Idaho was dead last for women’s preventative health care, but in the middle of the state rankings for women’s health care overall.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers took the advice of doctors Tuesday on changes to a bill that would regulate abortion-inducing medication. Physicians said certain requirements in the original bill would be impossible to fulfill in some cases.

The revision loosens a proposed obligation on doctors to make sure a patient seeks emergency care or comes in for a follow-up. It also would give doctors more clinical latitude than the original bill would have.

Ken McClure, a lobbyist for the Idaho Medical Association, told lawmakers the IMA worked with anti-abortion groups to revise the proposal.

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

Alexodus / Flickr

A new group is kicking off a statewide campaign effort to legalize marijuana in Idaho by 2016.

New Approach Idaho is the latest pro-marijuana organization to emerge following a string of failed attempts by other groups over the years to legalize marijuana in Idaho.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports that the new group is focused on allowing medical marijuana, but the long-term goal is full legalization.

insurance exchange, computer, your health idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho officials say the state-based health insurance marketplace had nearly 13,000 visitors just days after it opened for business.

Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly isn't immediately releasing how many Idahoans signed up for coverage on the state exchange's website. However, he told reporters Monday yourhealthidaho.org hasn't experienced any of the technical glitches that plagued the federal marketplace last year since it launched Saturday.

Last year, 76,000 Idaho residents enrolled within six months.

DBKing / Flickr

The Supreme Court will decide whether private sector health care providers can force a state to raise its Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep up with rising costs.

The justices on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from Idaho.

The state is trying to overturn a lower court decision that ordered the state to increase payments.

The Army Surgeon General Thursday suspended the commander in charge of Army hospitals in 20 western states.

Becky diVittorio, Optum
Idaho Statesman

A federal agency is investigating whether the company Idaho hired to manage part of its Medicaid program has violated patient-privacy laws.

Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, took over insurance management for Idaho Medicaid's mental-health and substance-abuse patients last fall.

Local health-care providers who treat those patients say Optum has erroneously sent them reports meant for other providers. The reports show patient names and mental-health or substance-abuse services the patients received or were authorized by Optum to receive.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The state’s effort to rein in Medicaid costs has created deep friction between small businesses that deliver behavioral-health services to Medicaid patients and a new contractor hired to manage them.

Service providers across Idaho have raised complaints over the last 11 months that the contractor, Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, has created red tape and cut services needed by at-risk patients.

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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho work group says the state should expand its Medicaid eligibility, but committee members voiced concerns that their recommendation will be ignored by both the governor and legislators.

The 15-member group voted Thursday to submit their recommendation to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

This is the second time this work group has supported expanding Medicaid to provide coverage to the state's working poor. Their 2012 recommendation, however, has been ignored for the past two years.

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 state of Oregon wants to reshape the way it provides medical services to low income people in rural parts of the state. And it’s getting a robust response from health care providers. Before a deadline this week, state health administrators received more than 50 proposals to create regional collaborations. The strategy is part of what Oregon’s Governor is calling a health-care transformation. 

Tom Kelly/Flickr

Idaho lawmakers passed what’s known as the “death bill” Wednesday. The bill forbids doctors from refusing treatments such as food and fluids to dying patients who have said they want them. Democratic Representative John Rusche of Lewiston, a retired physician , said at first he was offended by the bill, specifically by the implication that any Idaho doctor would not listen to the desires of a patient on this issue. But he said some amendments had made it more palatable.

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