Health Care

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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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Patients seeking care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Boise have some of the longest waits for care in the entire VA system according to government data reviewed by The Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics show that about 1 in every 16 patients seeking care during a six-month period at the Boise facility had to wait 31 days or longer. That compares to a national average of about 1 in 36 patients.

During that time period there were more patients waiting three months or longer for care in Boise than there were in 45 states.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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