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.

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.


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.

BOISE, Id – An attempt to raise Idaho’s cigarette tax was snuffed out today in the Idaho Legislature.  Despite pleas to save lives and money, lawmakers objected to higher taxes and the effects on local businesses. 

Heidi Low of the American Cancer Society led the charge.  Speaking before the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, she proposed raising the cigarette tax by 1.25 per pack.  Supported by a coalition of 24 other groups, Low said the goal would be to keep kids from smoking. 


BOISE, Id – An Idaho lawmaker wants to form a new committee to oversee Idaho’s compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Republican Representative Janice McGeachin introduced the bill Thursday, calling it a Health Care Reform Oversight Committee.

Janice McGeachin “This is a committee that would provide oversight and make recommendations to the legislature as a whole on whether we wish to specifically authorize or prohibit the state’s compliance with or participation in federal health care reform.”

BOISE, Id – Idaho lawmakers will tackle some major issues this session including whether the state should create a health insurance exchange. Under the Affordable Care Act, such an exchange will have to be in place by 2014. The question is whether Idaho would be better off going with a national system or creating a state one. The Idaho Department of Insurance will help craft legislation on a state-based exchange.

Pertussis Outbreak

Nov 2, 2011

BOISE, Id – Nine children in Idaho’s Panhandle have Whooping Cough.  The highly contagious illness has been spreading in Kootenai County.  Most of the sick children were not vaccinated.

Since January, 39 cases have been confirmed in the five northern counties.  But in Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley, the counties covered by Central District Health, the familiar whoop of whooping cough is not being heard.

BOISE, Id – Idaho’s new Medicaid processing system is getting better.  That’s the word Tuesday from the Department of Health and Welfare to a group of lawmakers.  The company that handles the system has worked to improve its track record, after a bumpy start last year.

BOISE, Id – The Boise VA Medical Center received a top national honor Friday.  The award comes from the Joint Commission, a non-profit group that accredits and certifies more than 19-thousand health care organizations in the U-S.  The Boise VA was one of only twenty VA Medical Centers that received the award.  Grant Ragsdale is the Associate Medical Center Director.