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By Statesman staff
August 7, 2014
A new report says Idaho will lose $3.3 billion in federal Medicaid funds, and $1.5 billion for hospital reimbursement, over roughly the next decade by not expanding its Medicaid program to all poor adults.
The report from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released Thursday, says Idaho’s savings and new state revenues from a Medicaid expansion would the cost of implementing an expansion. Hospitals also would get reimbursed for newly eligible Medicaid patients who now lack insurance.
“The impact of not expanding Medicaid has broader implications than just the number of people who gain insurance. It significantly impacts state economies and hospital budgets,” said Kathy Hempstead, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, whose goals include 95 percent of Americans being covered by health insurance. “States are literally leaving billions of dollars on the table that would support their hospitals and stimulate the rest of their economies.”
States were required under the 2010 Affordable Care Act to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone living in poverty — not just poor children, poor pregnant and new mothers and adults with disabilities, as is the case in Idaho. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states don’t have to comply with that part of the law. The Idaho Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter have opted not to expand Idaho’s Medicaid program.
States that expand Medicaid will have at least 90 percent of their new Medicaid costs covered by the federal government, under the law. Idaho lawmakers have voiced concerns about that federal-match rate being cut, leaving Idaho responsible for medical costs of significantly more people — a concern the new report addresses.
by Karen Zatkulak
Posted on March 12, 2014 at 6:08 PM
Updated today at 8:26 AM
KUNA — A group of inmates from the Community Work Center gave a special donation to injured football player Boone Bartlome, Wednesday morning.
There are 100 inmates at the Work Center, all nearing the end of their time behind bars.
One of them is Thomas Massey. He’s been locked up since 2005 on meth charges but says he’s worked hard to change his life around.
“This is the last step before you get back to society. This place here helped me to change my life, and to put me back on the right path so Idaho did help me to do something in my life, to change,” said Massey. He’s been at the work center for the last three years, working as the head cook.
Massey said he watched the news coverage of Boone’s accident and followed along during his recovery.
Vince Samares was also following Boone’s story.
Both decided they wanted to help Boone and decided to raise money for a donation.
Samares says the inmates are one step away from being released and want to show that they can be a helpful piece of society.
“People get to work in the community, save money, and when they get out they aren’t a burden on the resources,” said Samares.
Massey and Samares had been waiting for weeks to meet Boone and hand over their donation.
Amid jokes and laughter, both inmates helped Boone inside the visitor area. Massey, Samares and Boone talked about football and trucks.
They also shared pieces of their personal journeys, and something they have in common with Boone — getting through difficult times.
Massey said he understood Boone’s situation, as he’s dealt with challenges in his own life.
“I know you have a change to do and it’s hard but I commend you because you didn’t stop, and I’m not going to stop either,” said Massey.
Boone said he may remember this donation most, because of the people behind it.
“When we were told we were getting a donation from here, you don’t hear anything about that and so they don’t know you guys are doing good for the community,” said Boone.
The check was for $760, money donated from those still paying for their crimes.
Some, like Massey, make just $100 a month. Others on work release have full time jobs but are charged 35 percent of their wages for room and board.
Boone said he really enjoyed meeting Massey and Samares.
“When you hear something like this, you find that really cool, I thought out of all the donations, this was one of the coolest ones,” said Boone.
The donation seemed to have touched Massey just as much.
“It helps us understand that we are humans too. Even though we did make mistakes in our life and meeting Boone was really one of the highlights of my life,” said Massey.
By JOHN MILLER
Associated PressJanuary 24, 2014
BOISE, Idaho — Mental health professionals blasted a private company now managing behavioral health care for low-income Idaho residents, saying the contract is plagued with problems and hours-long delays that not only make the process more difficult but could put their clients at risk.
A joint House and Senate Health and Welfare Committee meeting Friday provided a venue to criticize Optum, a Minnesota-based health care services management company whose parent company is UnitedHealth Group.
Since September, it’s being paid $10.5 million monthly to administer outpatient behavioral health services for Idaho’s Medicaid program as the state seeks to as it seeks to control costs, boost efficiency and give incentives to providers to offer appropriate services when they’re needed. However, private providers in Idaho say the transition has been fraught with poor communication, including spending hours on hold with the company’s representatives as they seek to authorize services for people suffering from mental illnesses.
Nikki Tangen, of Boise-based Access Behavioral Health Services, contends Optum has exacerbated a bottleneck in getting care to clients in crisis. One prospective patient barred from getting help is now in a psychiatric hospital, another committed a felony offense and another burned his house down, Tangen said, complaining she currently has 16 new clients on hold because nobody will tell her if services will be covered.
by Associated Press
Posted on June 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Updated today at 12:40 PM
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A group of religious, education and community activists is pushing for a ballot initiative that would raise Idaho’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 an hour over the next four years.
The Spokesman-Review reports the group rallied Saturday morning in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone Park.
The group’s leader, Anne Nesse, unsuccessfully ran for the Legislature last fall. Nesse said she knows the group has a steep hill to climb — a similar proposal from Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, failed to pass out of committee earlier this year. But Nesse said her proposal is modest, and if approved the minimum wage would be $8.10 in 2015, less than the federal bump to $9 an hour proposed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address this year
Boise prepares for NPR StoryCorps project
Published: June 7, 2013 Updated 1 hour ago
Boise prepares for NPR StoryCorps project
1 hour ago
StoryCorps is a national story recording project that lets citizens share their stories in brief oral interviews. Stories are recorded and archived. Some are aired on National Public Radio stations.
The project is coming to Boise June 10 to July 6 as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour. An Airstream trailer, outfitted with a recording studio will be parked in front of Boise City Hall for four weeks.
If you’re interested in being part of the project and sharing your story, you can make reservations by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour, toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting storycorps.org.
Additional reservation slots will open on June 11.
Shelter for homeless families to open during daytime
Posted on November 30, 2012 at 2:30 PM
BOISE — Now that it’s getting colder the city of Boise is helping homeless families stay warm and safe.
The city is opening a day shelter for those who have no place to go during daytime hours.
The program starts Monday, December 3rd and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at the Pioneer Neighborhood Community Center on Ash Street in Boise.
We visited the shelter last year when 10 families stopped by on the first day. While it was open, 41 families visited over 3,000 times.
The day shelter has library materials, computers and toys, as well as art and recreation activities provided by Boise Parks and Recreation.
Donations of diapers, socks and other youth supplies are welcome.