One of Blue Cross of Idaho’s new television commercials opens with a chirpy jingle. “You’re protected in the sun, you’re protected when it rains,” the song begins. The pitch is clear: this is the insurer for you, no matter your lifestyle.
Governor C.L. “Butch” said in a news release this morning he’ll wait to consult with Idaho Legislative leaders before deciding if the state will create its own health insurance exchange.
Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it would give states until Dec. 14 to decide if they’ll create a state-based exchange, a federal exchange, or a partnership model.
There aren’t many places in deep red Idaho where you’re likely to hear the kind of proud introduction Gini Ballou offered up not long after we met.
“I’m Gini Ballou,” she said. “My mother stopped to vote for John F. Kennedy on her way to the hospital to have me. And the greatest gift I ever got for my birthday was the ’08 election, when I was given President Obama on my birthday.”
Dr. Jennifer Petrie has known since she was a high school student in Lewiston, Idaho, that she wanted to be a rural family physician.
Petrie works at the Emmett Medical Center, less than an hour’s drive north of Boise. She sees patients four days a week in her small, sparse examining room here and also works the emergency room shift a couple times a month at the neighboring hospital.
Dr. Petrie is a generalist. She didn’t want to choose a high-paying specialty. For her, seeing all kinds of people was the most appealing thing about being a doctor.
As of August 1, Idaho had already spent $9.1 million to fight wildfires this season. It's a cost sure to increase as fire season continues. The Idaho Department of Lands says the state pays on average $8.6 million each year to fight fires.
More than one million acres have burned in Idaho since the wildfire season launched into full swing earlier this summer. And many of those blazes will continue to burn until snow falls.
Some of Idaho’s most fertile farm ground has been hit by the drought that’s crippling crops nationwide. Farmers who have deep wells and irrigation are faring well. Those who don’t aren’t. It’s one indication of the very different economics of dry-land and irrigated farming.
Almost 20,000 more Idahoans had jobs this July compared to last. The Idaho Department of Labor reports July’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point from June to 7.5 percent. That’s a three-year low, and it’s better than the national rate of 8.3 percent.
Before the recession hit, the sawmill in the North Idaho town of Laclede was known for its reliability. It had never seen a shutdown, not in Steve Spletstoser’s nearly 30 years of working there. Then came 2008.
It was really eye-opening to see,” Spletstoser says. “Your livelihood is hanging in the balance.” Day after day, the mill cut lumber, and day after day it piled up. Very little left the lot.
More than 236,000 Idahoans are currently enrolled in Medicaid. That’s the federal-state funded health care program for low-income adults and children. If the state chooses to expand eligibility in Idaho to 138 percent of poverty, 100,000 people could join the rolls.