Health

Blue Cross of Idaho

Health insurance companies are also among those reacting to today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a majority of the federal health care law. 

Blue Cross of Idaho is the largest private insurer in the state, covering 720,000 people in Idaho.  Karen Early is a spokeswoman for the not-for-profit company.  She says now that most of the Affordable Care Act has been upheld, it’s time for Idaho to create its own insurance exchange

DB King / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Justice John Roberts served as the court's swing vote in the 5-4 decision.  The high court issued its ruling in Washington this morning.  You can read the ruling here.

You can also hear NPR's continuing coverage of the decision throughout the afternoon on KBSX 91.5, and read more from NPR here.  

Boise State Public Radio’s news team is gathering reaction from Idaho residents and lawmakers.  You can read that throughout the here, and listen for coverage on All Things Considered (3:30 PM to 6:30 PM).

Senator Crapo's Office

The U.S. Supreme Court will make a much anticipated decision this week on the nation’s health care law.  Idaho's senior senator believes some parts of the law will survive whatever the court decides. 

University of Idaho

Scientists at the University of Maryland and the University of Idaho say they’ve discovered that the vaginal microbiome — the bacteria living in the vagina — varies considerably between women. There may not be, in other words, a single way to define what is meant by a normal vaginal environment.

Dr. Larry Forney is a co-author of the research and director of the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies at the University of Idaho.

The U.S. Supreme Court could rule any day now on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care overhaul. The decision could have broad implications for state health care policies in the Northwest.

The high court could leave the law alone, overturn it, or throw out pieces of it. The ruling could complicate things for state-level health care administrators like Rocky King. He's in charge of developing Oregon's new health insurance exchange. He says work on the plan has continued despite the uncertainty over the law's future.

Dave Fotsch

This Wednesday marks the longest day of the year with 16 hours of daylight. The Alzheimer’s Association will use this day to honor people who have the disease and their caregivers.  The group asks people to use all of that daylight to push their limits physically and to raise money for research.  

United States Department of Agriculture

If you bought some bratwurst for a Memorial Day cook-out, check the label.  The USDA says Zenner’s Quality Meat Products of Portland is recalling more than 3,500 pounds of bratwurst sold in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and California.  The recall was issued because the label doesn’t say the product includes soy protein, which some people are allergic to.  Zenner’s Smoked Brotwurst was sold at Winco stores and has a sell-by date of July 17th.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A new report out today says one in every eleven children will spend a portion of their lives without their parents, living instead with a relative.  That number is growing both in the U-S and in Idaho.  These kids often don’t get all the services that are available to them.  The study hopes to change that.

Idaho Prison Agrees To Improve Medical Care

May 16, 2012
Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Department of Correction has reached an agreement with the inmates at one of its prisons. This comes from a lawsuit spanning more than three decades.

Jason Prince is a lawyer who represents 1,600 inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. He’s spent the last few months negotiating an agreement on changes to medical care at the prison near Boise. Prince says the biggest change will be increased staff.

www.idoc.idaho.gov

 The Idaho Department of Correction has reached an agreement over a lawsuit filed by prisoners more than 30 years ago. The agreement requires upgrades to medical facilities at the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise. The agreement reached in U.S. District Court Tuesday gives a six month deadline for initial improvements…followed by a 2 year monitoring period. Department of Corrections director Brent Reinke says the initial cost of the changes will be more than $1.5 million.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon
Aglie/Flickr

Saturday marks the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to fight breast cancer.  In Idaho, 117 out of every 100-thousand women will get the disease.  It’s a frightening diagnosis.  One group works to help the newly diagnosed through the maze of doctors, treatments, and emotions. 

Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility / Dartmouth College

Here in the Northwest, you hear lots of complaints about the abundant rain. But this year's cool March weather and above normal rainfall in April may have eased the suffering of people with pollen allergies.

Idaho, Washington and Oregon are among the 44 states splitting a $100 million settlement with pharmaceutical giant Abbott Labs. The agreement announced Monday resolves a dispute over the company's marketing of a drug called Depakote.

The medication is federally-approved to treat certain mental illnesses. But a multi-state investigation found that Abbott used a flawed study to promote the drug as a way to treat other illnesses, such as schizophrenia and dementia.

Idaho Skips Pertussis Epidemic Despite Infant Death

May 7, 2012
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho has had its first death from pertussis in three years. An eastern Idaho infant died last week from the disease also known as whooping cough. But  Idaho is not experiencing the epidemic some of its neighbors are.

A month ago Washington State’s Secretary of Health Mary Selecky declared a statewide epidemic of pertussis. She told KUOW more than 600 cases had been confirmed and 20 people had been hospitalized.

“If this pace continues we’re on track to have the highest number of whooping cough cases in our state in decades,” Selecky said.

Washington State University / Northwest News Network

The chance of a woman getting ovarian disease may be tied to the toxic chemicals her great-grandmother was exposed to. That’s according to a new study by researchers at Washington State University.  The study could help explain the role of environmental factors in inherited diseases.

Here’s how it works. Picture your great-grandmother. Now let’s say, while pregnant with your future grandparent, she was exposed to some toxic chemical. Pesticides, phthalates -- that stuff in plastic -- or maybe jet fuel. Those are some of the things the researchers looked at.

CDC to Investigate WA Whooping Cough Epidemic

May 7, 2012
twenty_questions / Flickr

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has sent two epidemiologists to Washington State. The investigators will try to find out what’s causing the state’s rapid rise of whooping cough cases.

The investigators are in Washington to help the state figure out how the number of whooping cough cases has reached epidemic levels. They’re here at the request of Washington Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.

Brett Sayer / Flickr

New figures from the Alzheimer’s Association show 75-thousand people in Idaho - usually family members - are helping care for a patient with the disease.  An organization known as the Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group is working on a state plan to help patients and those caregivers.

Washington Steps Up Fight Against Whooping Cough

May 4, 2012
prashant_zi / Flickr

The number of whooping cough cases in Washington State is rising rapidly that the Governor has gotten involved.  Thursday Governor Chris Gregoire announced she’s releasing $90,000 in emergency funds to step up the state’s public awareness campaign.

Under the watchful eye of her mother, TV cameras, and the Governor, four year-old Kimberly Magdeleno reacts as the nurse gives her a series of shots. One of them is the vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough.  Her crying quickly fades when the nurse rewards her with a set of stickers.

jdlasica / Flickr

The federal government has agreed to pump nearly two billion dollars into Oregon's experiment at changing the way it delivers health care to low income people. The news today came after Governor John Kitzhaber and three other state officials flew to Washington to personally lobby for the cash.

http://www.cedars-sinai.edu

A judge has a denied a motion for a retrial in a $52-million lawsuit involving Boise based St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. Last year, the center lost a jury trial in the suit brought by MRI Associates, a medical imaging company it had partnered with in the past. Late last week, Fourth Judicial District Judge Mike Wetherell said no to a retrial.

Seventy people in Washington legally ended their lives in 2011 with the help of a physician. That continues a steady increase in each of the last three years. The latest numbers come from a report out [today] Wednesday on Washington's so-called Death with Dignity Act. The annual release of statistics on the law says 80 physicians wrote a total of 103 such prescriptions in 2011.

jdlasica / Flickr

Four Idaho health centers will pick up some cash today from the federal government.  The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is giving more than $9.5 million dollars to build and expand health centers.  The hope is to help serve 16-thousand new patients.   

Centers for Disease Control

The federal government’s top health officers are making an appeal to the Northwest’s medical community to boost vaccination rates. The deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control’s immunization branch spoke at a public health conference in Coeur d’Alene Friday as part of the national campaign.

Last year, Washington and Oregon immunization rates were among the lowest in the nation. Idaho’s was average. That’s according to a CDC survey.

RamberMediaImages / Flickr

Blue Cross of Idaho has teamed up with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana to buy two companies, one in Coeur d’Alene and one in Montana.  Peak 1 Administration and Insurance Coordinators of Montana will merge together to provide ancillary support services for the insurance companies.

Those include running Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts, and COBRAs, where employees can temporarily continue their health coverage after they leave their job.  Blue Cross says the acquisition will allow it to increase services to more clients in more areas.

University of Idaho

Author Raj Patel says the problem with the world’s food supply is not the amount of food available, but how to get that food to the people who need it. He spoke at the University of Idaho’s Borah Symposium on Tuesday.

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