Idaho Residents Share Worries Over Medicaid, Mental Health, and Dental Care With Lawmakers

Feb 8, 2013

Idaho Statehouse
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Dental care for low-income adults.  Help for physical and mental disabilities.  Expanding Idaho’s Medicaid.  Those were some of the issues that came up during a public hearing Friday during a joint meeting of the Legislature’s Health and Welfare Committees.   

Sue Philly told lawmakers her brother died two weeks ago in Mountain Home because he couldn’t afford quality health care.  “Idahoans want a healthy future.  They want a health system that makes preventative care routine.  This would include preventing bad teeth and correcting poor vision because these conditions make people miserable and unemployable.”

She suggested funding free mobile medical vans that could travel to rural areas. 

Several speakers said they worked with people with physical or mental challenges.  They asked lawmakers to provide more funding to help people live independently.  Other speakers talked about the need for more services for people considering suicide.

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson told lawmakers his department responds to an average of 20 calls each day for residents experiencing a mental crisis. “We rescue, on average, 1.4 persons a day who are then hospitalized and they get to live another day.”

He says, regrettably, Boise loses an average of one person a day to mental illness.

Masterson says the state needs to treat people with mental illnesses early instead of waiting for them to reach a crisis.