Health

Flu Season Hangs On In Parts Of Northwest

Apr 11, 2012
basaldigitalthermometer.com

Flu season is hanging on longer than usual in parts of the Northwest. That’s shown in cases of the flu -- and also via web searches. Google queries for terms like “muscle aches,” ”flu symptoms” and “thermometer” are being used to track where flu is hitting now.

Google and the Centers for Disease Control have found that flu-related searches go hand-in-hand with confirmed cases of the flu. Up-to-the-minute data is available on the web for anyone to track at a site called Google Flu Trends.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

An Idaho woman arrested for inducing her own abortion is taking her case to federal court. Jennie Linn McCormack was charged last year under an obscure Idaho law for ending her pregnancy with RU-486. She joins an increasing number of women who get the so-called abortion pill off the internet. McCormack’s attorney says he’s willing to take the challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, neither pro-choice nor pro-life groups are paying attention to the case.

Idaho's Teen Birth Rate Is Average

Apr 10, 2012
Neal Gillis / Flickr

A new federal study says Idaho’s rate of teens having babies has fallen to record lows along with most states. But Idaho is only average.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the teen birth rate in the United States has been dropping steadily for several years and now it’s down to the lowest point since it started keeping track in the 1940s.  The authors of the study largely credit sex education initiatives. Sex ed can be a sensitive subject in a socially conservative state like Idaho and programs vary widely from place to place.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

It was expected to be one of the biggest debates of the 2012 legislative session: would Idaho create its own health insurance exchange?  The Associated Press held a special discussion of the issue during its January legislative preview.   In a series of interviews that StateImpact conducted in December, legislator after legislator predicted it would be a defining issue of the months ahead.  Continue reading...

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. 

There have been 21 reported cases of whooping cough in Idaho so far this year.  But in Washington State the number of whooping cough cases has reached epidemic levels. The disease is spreading so rapidly that health officials are urging adults and children to get vaccinated.

Washington Secretary of Health Mary Selecky announced today that as of last month, there have been 640 cases of whooping cough. That’s compared to 94 in the same period last year.

University of Wisconsin / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Researchers have found a way to rank the healthiest counties in Idaho.  Blaine County comes out on top. 

Where you live matters to your health.  That’s according to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.  Their 2012 County Health Rankings break down the healthiest counties in Idaho.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Two weeks ago, a doctor’s report on health care at Idaho’s largest and oldest prison found “serious problems.” The state Attorney General’s Office responded Friday in a 37-page legal document.

Washington State University

A scientist with the WWAMI program at Spokane’s WSU Riverpoint campus has received a large grant to study one question: why do humans sleep? Boise State Public Radio highlighted the WWAMI program a couple of weeks ago as it turned 40. It's a cooperation between five northwest states, including Idaho, to train doctors. But WWAMI doctors also conduct research. One of those is Jonathan Wisor . 

DBKing / Flickr

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard three days of arguments over landmark healthcare legislation.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act generated a large crowd at the Court, all wanting a front row seat.  Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden was among them. 

Idaho Lawmakers Pass Death Bill

Mar 28, 2012
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.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Women wanting an abortion won't need an ultrasound in Idaho. State lawmakers were considering a measure to make that the case.  Right to Life advocates wanted this legislation to persuade more women to say no to an abortion.  Over the last two months, the mandate sparked rallies and fierce debate.  Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise) said “I just see that there's a higher, at least in my opinion, need to protect the unborn and to respect the life of the developing child.”

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. is hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act.  One of the main questions is whether the government can force people to buy health insurance. 

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) opposes the law.  He suggests an alternative way to fund health care.  "Rather than having the government pay for the health care," Crapo says.  " The government could utilize the same resources to subsidize access to health insurance for those who are truly in need."

National Women’s Law Center

A nationwide study says Idaho has one of the widest gaps between how much money insurers charge women and men. The survey by the National Women’s Law Center found Idaho women pay around $700 more each year.

The National Women’s Law Center reviewed the rates of the best-selling insurers in states that allow a practice known as “gender rating.” The Center found that in Idaho a 40-year-old non-smoking woman is typically offered a rate 40 percent higher than any man her age. That’s even when comparing plans that don’t cover maternity care.

DBKing / Flickr

Idaho's Attorney General is in Washington D-C today and tomorrow to watch oral arguments at the U-S Supreme Court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Idaho was one of the first states to challenge the federal health care law.  Brian Kane is the Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General and has been Lawrence Wasden’s “point man” in the legal process.  Kane told Samantha Wright that Idaho's decision to get involved happened two years ago, before President Obama signed healthcare reform into law...

 

 

National Women's Law Center

A new nationwide study says Idaho has one of the widest gaps between how much money insurers charge men and women. The survey by the National Women’s Law Center found women pay around $700 more each year. The practice, known as “gender rating,” is banned under the health care overhaul now before the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

House.gov

Idaho and 25 other states challenge the country's health care law in the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The justices will hear challenges on three parts of the law but the biggest question facing the justices is whether the government can force people to purchase private health insurance.

Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson says a ruling in favor of the individual mandate would greatly expand federal power. He questioned, “If they can do that, what can’t they do under the commerce clause?”
 

Religious beliefs and contraception collided Friday in the Idaho House of Representatives, where a majority of lawmakers voted to send a message to the President and U.S. Congress to reject a new birth control policy. 

The Obama Administration has been walking a tightrope on contraception these past few weeks.  It started with a requirement that religious non-profits offer workers birth control free of charge.  After a backlash, the Administration offered to exempt these groups and place the cost on their insurers. 

Ramberg Media Images / Flickr

Health and Human Services says nine states, including Idaho, have companies asking for excessive health insurance rate hikes. 

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal department says some rate hikes of more than ten percent are “unreasonable.” 

In Idaho, John Alden Life Insurance Company and Time Insurance Company asked for double-digit increases this year.  

Health and Human Services says the companies involved should rescind the rate hikes, issue refunds, or explain why they won’t.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

UPDATE:  The bill to require women to have an abdominal ultrasound or a trans-vaginal ultrasound has already passed the Senate.  Lawmakers on the House State Affairs Committee were supposed to hear the bill Thursday morning, but in a surprise move late this afternoon, that meeting was canceled.  That leaves the bill's future in limbo.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Protesters at odds over a plan to require women to get an ultrasound ahead of an abortion staged separate demonstrations Wednesday at the statehouse.

Courtesy Bob Shaper / Northwest News Network

Angel Flight is a group of volunteer pilots. They fly people with medical needs from small towns to big cities where major hospitals are.

During the down economy the last few years, requests for these missions have nearly doubled. So far the group has managed to keep up, but the growing number of patients needing a ride doesn’t seem to to be slowing down.

A new report says Idaho’s largest prison provides such substandard health care to inmates that in some cases it may have resulted in death. A federal judge unsealed an expert’s opinion in a decades-long case Monday. In it, Dr. Marc Stern details a range of problems at the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise.

He says patients there face cruel and unusual treatment. One inmate wasn’t told he had cancer for months. Another bed-ridden inmate wasn’t fed. And Stern said an emergency ventilator that should be used often was caked in dust.

Samantha Wright / BSPR

The Idaho Senate passed a bill today that requires an ultrasound before a woman can get an abortion.  Senators spoke passionately for and against the measure. The bill requires a woman to get either an abdominal or trans-vaginal ultrasound before an abortion.  Several senators said their vote would be a personal decision, a vote from the heart. 

Samantha Wright/BSPR

BOISE, Id – Eight states already require women considering an abortion to have an ultrasound. Idaho is one of the state's wanting to have that same requirement on the books.  State lawmakers Wednesday took another step forward to do just that.

The legislation would require a woman to get either an abdominal or trans-vaginal ultrasound before an abortion.  It would be up to the woman to decide whether to see any images from that ultrasound. But Susan Young argues those images would help a woman make an informed choice.   

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, Id – Some Idaho lawmakers are weighing in on a national debate over whether religious institutions should be required to provide birth control coverage to employees.

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