Idaho gets $20.3 million grant for health exchange

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by Associated Press


Posted on August 8, 2013 at 8:49 AM

BOISE — The state of Idaho has just received a $20.3 million federal grant to help craft its own health insurance exchange.

Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Executive Director Amy Dowd announced the grant Wednesday. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will be used to help create the online marketplace where individuals and small business owners can go to buy health insurance coverage.

Dowd says the federal money will help the state meet upcoming deadlines for having the exchange operational.

Idaho is one of several states creating its own insurance exchange, which is a key component to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The exchanges are aimed at providing a transparent way for people who don’t currently have insurance to compare and purchase policies.

Man hospitalized with Idaho’s first West Nile case

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Posted on July 26, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Updated today at 12:31 PM
BOISE — A 40-year-old Payette man is in the hospital with Idaho’s first West Nile case of the year.

Southwest District Health officials confirmed the positive test results of this potentially serious illness Friday.

West Nile is usually spread to animals and humans from the bite of an infected mosquito, not person to person. Health officials say most people that get it don’t show the symptoms, but some become seriously ill.

Symptoms include: fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash typically occurring 2 to 14 days after being bitten.

The Idaho Department of Agriculture also confirmed Friday that two horses have tested positive for the virus.

More positive West Nile tests in Ada and Canyon counties

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Posted on July 18, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Updated yesterday at 6:12 PM

BOISE — More mosquitoes in Ada and Canyon counties have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The Ada County Mosquito Abatement District says one sample was confirmed, while two others were sent to the Idaho State Lab for further testing.

The district says they’ve responded to and treated all of the locations where the samples were found and will continue to monitor the locations throughout the summer.

This is the second round of positive tests in Ada County. The district announced last week that mosquitoes in the area of Beacon Light and Linder Roads had tested positive for West Nile.

Click here to see the Ada County Abatement District’s mosquito tracker map.

The Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District also says more mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile were found in traps in the following areas:

NAMI Idaho

NAMI Website
NAMI Idaho was organized as the state organization of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to serve those impacted by mental illness in the state of Idaho. Pursuant to its Bylaws, NAMI Idaho will:

1. Serve as the Idaho state organization chartered by NAMI;

2. Agree to endorse the mission, values and policies of NAMI;

3. Develop statewide positions on issues relating to mental illness and advocate for such positions at the state level;
4. Assist in the coordination of local, state and national mental health advocacy efforts;

5. Serve as a conduit in communicating NAMI and NAMI Idaho issues to the local community-based NAMI Affiliates in Idaho (hereinafter referred to as

Idaho’s suicide prevention hotline expands hours



Posted on June 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Updated today at 1:04 PM

BOISE — Just a year ago, Idahoans in need of emotional support had no local hotline to call when faced with suicidal feelings or thoughts.

Now, just months after staffing a call center to help those in need, the Idaho Suicide Prevention hotline will add an evening shift to its hours of operation.

The hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.

The newly expanded hours will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning July 1.

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and St. Luke’s Health system gave gifts of $37,500 each to fund the expansion.

Those in need of help can call the hotline, and will be connected to trained Idaho phone responders who can refer them to key resources in their communities. The ISPH also will be able to offer follow-up calls to individuals seeking help.

Eagle school’s charter revoked



Posted on June 25, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Updated today at 10:57 AM

MERIDIAN — The Meridian School District has decided to revoke the charter held by North Star Charter School in Eagle. The move comes after a history of financial problems.

North Star Charter now has 30 days to respond to the ruling, and then a public meeting will be held. Afterward, the district plans a second vote to either keep or reinstate the charter.

Jim Miller, the chairman of the North Star Charter School Board, says the Meridian School Board considers them a financial risk.

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Plans for multi-million dollar Boise transit center still underway

by Stephanie Zepelin
Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Updated today at 7:48 AM


Study: Diet soda can decay teeth like meth

Study: Diet soda can decay teeth like meth
Credit: KGW Reporter Erica Heartquist

by KGW Staff

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Posted on May 30, 2013 at 11:20 AM
PORTLAND — Heavy consumption of diet soda can be as bad for your teeth as an addiction to methamphetamine or crack cocaine, according to a study published in General Dentistry magazine.

Read the report

Regular soda is also harmful to teeth, according to the study by Dr. Mohamed A. Bassiouny, but diet soda drinkers tend to consume more on a daily basis.

The example of tooth decay from diet soda cited by Bassiouny is a woman who, for financial reasons, had not seen a dentist in two decades.

“They’re about the same. If you drink any soda, period, you’re going to increase your risk of having dental cavities,” said Dr. Jay Anderson of the OHSU Department of Community Dentistry. “It’s about dose. It’s about how much you drink”

But he told KGW that diet soda is also more acidic than regular soda. That acid is the common link between the effects of drugs and of soda on the teeth.

Anderson said saliva protects the teeth, and meth and cocaine consumption reduce that protection. Drinking soda has a similar effect by producing more acid than the saliva can protect against.

He recommended chewing sugarless gum with xylitol or rinsing your mouth with water after drinking soda.


KGW Reporter Erica Heartquist contributed to this report.

Protecting our children: Investigating child abuse in Idaho

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by Karen Zatkulak
Bio | Email

BOISE — A child in Idaho is abused once every two hours.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare tells KTVB in 2012, they received nearly 8,000 calls of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, some of those calls ended in a child’s death.

In three of those cases, authorities were aware of a history of abuse, and the child’s life was still taken.


In 2009, 8-year-old Robert Manwill’s body was found in a Boise area canal. His mother’s boyfriend had beaten him.

Caseworkers had been inside the same home checking on the safety of another child just a month before.

In 2012, 2-year-old Nakita’s body was burned in a barrel outside her home after her mother, Veronica Herrera beat and tortured her.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare monitored Nakita from birth because of her mother’s substance abuse, but closed their case a year before her murder.

Then in March of 2013, authorities tell us 1-year-old Joseph suffered deadly traumatic injuries inside his Mountain Home apartment.

His stepfather, Airman Richard Laubach, is now charged with his murder.


David Ray lived next door to the Laubach family and says it was common for violence to erupt inside the home.

“There was a lot of abusive conversation going on between the two, most of it involved him yelling at her,” said Ray.

Authorities responded to a report of abuse at the home six months before Joseph’s death.

The incident led to a battery charge involving Laubach’s wife, and an injury to child charge involving Joseph.

However, both charges were dismissed.

In exchange, Laubach was ordered to attend anger management and parenting classes.

We contacted both Mountain Home Police and the prosecutor in the case, but neither would comment.

Ray said classes weren’t enough. “This guy, he needed professional help. You say he had anger management class, but I don’t think that quite covered it all said and done. You have little kids involved, obviously they should have been removed from the home.”

He says he’s shocked that more wasn’t done to protect the child who couldn’t protect himself.

“I think somebody did drop the ball if not somebodies,” said Ray.

We took that concern to the Department of Health and Welfare, who released new information to us about their involvement in the case assisting with the Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program.

They tell us they assisted the Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program.

The caseworker reported that Laubach’s wife had moved out and said she wouldn’t return.

So the case was closed.

“Based on their assessment and their discussion with both parents and collateral contacts, people that were involved with the family, it was determined that there was no imminent safety issue and the case was closed, said Amanda Pena, with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

But Laubach’s wife and child did return and by March, Joseph was dead.

We asked Pena if more could have been done in this case.

“I think absent, being intimately involved. Again, the information I have is the same information you have regarding this specific case. So I don’t know that I can give you an accurate answer to that,” said Pena.


We wanted to take a closer look at the child welfare process in Idaho, and went to the person who sees severe abuse firsthand. The medical director with St. Luke’s Children at Risk Evaluation Services, Dr. Paul McPherson is Idaho’s only child abuse pediatrician.

Dr. McPherson reports suspected abuse to the Department of Health and Welfare and says it’s difficult to see the cases where abuse was noticed, but not stopped.

“It’s always hard to hear that, because I just want to say, we could have prevented this worse injury, what can we do as a community to help prevent it,” said Dr. McPherson.

Ron and Barbara are volunteers with CASA guardians.

They’re caseworkers who investigate alongside the Department of Health of Welfare.

“We go to the homes, we go to the schools, we attend after school functions with the children. We try to develop relationships with the kids where they will trust us,” said Ron.

Ron says their goal is finding the safest place for each child.

“These children, they don’t have a choice, they’re being neglected, they’re being abused, they didn’t ask to be where they are, they need help,” said Ron.

He tells us the biggest problem is a big need for money and resources.

“The organizations that are trying to help them badly need funding,” said Ron.

Roger Sherman with Idaho Children’s Trust Fund says there is minimal state funding to address the problem, in fact the second lowest amount in the country.

“There are states that are spending a great deal more money, people have very strong home visiting programs for example that they’re funding with state dollars, they are using their dollars for parenting classes,” said Sherman.

In 2010, Child Trends reports Idaho spent nearly $22 million to address the problem.

In comparison, smaller neighboring states like Montana and Wyoming spent more on child abuse prevention.

In 2010, Montana spent $35,219,556, while Wyoming spent $36,748,995.

Sherman says a lack of funds means a lack of family resource centers, crisis nurseries, and in home help for struggling parents.

“We have not appropriated enough money to do the kind of job that I think that all of us would want to do, when it comes to protecting our children,” said Idaho Rep. Grant Burgoyne of Ada County.


Burgoyne admits it’s something Idaho has struggled with for decades.

“I think there is a feeling in Idaho that we don’t want government sticking its nose in the business of families,” said Burgoyne.

Burgoyne says the answer is not just more funding, but more accountability, and says he’s pushing what many other states already have, a child death registry to investigate each young tragedy.

“When a child dies as the result of abuse, it’s not only a tragedy, it’s a failing on the part of our state and our community,” said Burgoyne.

As for Joseph’s death, it has sparked an internal review of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s policies.

As many agencies look for ways to help save young lives, Idaho was the last state to get a child fatality review team.

The executive order to create one just passed last year, and the team has recently been trained.

They will look at a child death after the criminal case is complete to look for trends and ways to prevent the deaths.


The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says reporting child abuse is the most important factor in reducing or avoiding it. The number for the Treasure Valley is 334-KIDS or 334-5437. The statewide number is 1-855-552-5437.

Read to a therapy dog at the main library

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Read to a Therapy Dog Saturday, May 18, 2013, 2