Health

A disease-causing fungus thought to be confined to the deserts of the U.S. Southwest has been discovered in soil samples from eastern Washington.

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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.

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.

cans
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The chemical BPA, or bisphenol A, is commonly found in plastics, soup cans, and store receipts. Scientists continue to study how the chemical affects people. New research from the University of Idaho may sound a cautionary note for humans. 

Gordon Murdoch is an associate professor of physiology at the University of Idaho. He focused on fetal heart development in rhesus monkeys.

For the study, pregnant monkeys were fed fruit containing BPA. “Our question was did it affect the genes in the fetal heart?” he asked, “And to our surprise and dismay, it did.”

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.

Local officials say the deaths of a Pocatello, Idaho, couple and their teenage sons is one of the worst tragedies in recent memory in the southeast Idaho community.

Idaho's insurance exchange voted to give two companies publicly funded contracts worth $40.8 million to build and operate a state enrollment system due to replace the federal software in place now.

Your Health Idaho's board Friday voted to give the work to GetInsured and Accenture, the two companies that also built California's state insurance exchange.

Idaho has used the federal government's exchange for the past five months because it didn't have enough time to build its own system before the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline.

Idaho started licensing midwives in 2010 under the Midwifery Practice Act so midwives could deliver babies in homes and at birthing centers legally. 

Sen. Nonini
Idaho Legislature

Two Republican senators want to eliminate Idaho's fund that helps pay the medical bills of indigent people.

Sens. Steve Thayn of Emmett and Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene pitched the legislation on Monday.

They sold it to lawmakers on the Health and Welfare Committee as a better way to treat low-income people without insurance than the existing Catastrophic Care Fund.

Now, there will be a full hearing on the measure.

Currently, state and county taxpayers combine to cover indigent people's medical bills.

Idaho's 2013 Medicaid Rolls At Highest Level Yet

Feb 6, 2014
Medicaid
Data: Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare | Chart: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The number of low-income Idahoans on Medicaid increased 3.5 percent in 2013, a figure the Idaho Department of  Health and Welfare says marks a slow-down in growth of the program.

On average, 236,352 Idahoans were signed up for Medicaid each month of 2013. That's the highest average monthly enrollment the state has ever recorded.

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

A federal judge says a Boise-area hospital violated federal antitrust laws when it purchased Idaho's largest independent physicians' practice.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill made the ruling Friday, ordering St. Luke's Health System to undo its buyout of the Nampa-based Saltzer Medical Group.

Idaho insurance exchange officials don't know if the 20,000 people signed up for coverage effective Jan. 1 come from the ranks of the uninsured, or if they previously had insurance but switched to exchange policies because they're now eligible for financial assistance.

Your Health Idaho board chairman Stephen Weeg and director Amy Dowd gave their first report to the Idaho Legislature yesterday.

Afterward, Weeg and Dowd acknowledged nobody is collecting that information about those getting coverage.

Public health officials in the Northwest say a series of gonorrhea outbreaks shows little sign of letting up. In fact, in some places, rates of the STD may be getting worse.

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