Health Care Solutions

Ben Franklin was right when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, particularly with regard to health care.

As taxpayers, we pay the bills for people who cannot afford medical care yet end up in emergency rooms – sometimes with conditions that could have been prevented with relatively inexpensive preventive care services. In addition, many people who go to the emergency room at taxpayer expense aren’t in critical condition, but they cannot obtain medical care elsewhere because they are uninsured or cannot afford to pay a doctor.

Although health care reform is needed, I do not believe that the Obama administration has found the solution. Rejecting Obama’s program is a good first step, but it ultimately does nothing to solve the problem. In fact, last year, Idaho’s current administration tried to pass $6.2 million worth of state health care expense down to county property taxpayers.

There are simple changes that can be made in our current health care system that will address some of the challenges, such as allowing the sale and purchase of health insurance across state lines. More competition should lead to lower rates. At the local level, I’ve come up with another piece of the solution as well.

With the support of my Board colleagues, I have been working on a pilot project to cut costs for both county and state taxpayers for people who are unable to pay for their own medical care. Ada County has teamed up with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the Central District Health Department, and Idaho State University, the state’s designated Health Sciences University, to implement preventive health care screenings.

ISU students in nursing, pharmacy, dental, nutrition, counseling and other programs need opportunities to obtain hands-on training and experience. By bringing these students, with appropriate supervision by instructors, into the community to provide no-cost preventive health care screenings, it is our hope to curb the number of patients who seek costly medical health services in an emergency room setting at taxpayer expense. When a medical problem is detected, the patient is provided information on how to obtain low-cost treatment at clinics that provide services on a sliding-scale basis.

The next screening in Ada County will take place on Friday, April 23, from 3 – 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Christian Church. In the future, it is our goal to implement a similar program in other counties throughout the state.

The purpose of this health care pilot project is to promote personal responsibility for one’s own health through the provision of easily obtainable and affordable preventive health care services which will in turn lead to healthier people and less of a financial burden on taxpayers.

While the national health care debate rages on, here in Ada County, we are already doing something about the problem. Preventive health care education and screenings by students is solution-based government in action. It’s not the entire solution but it effectively helps people to help themselves and will ultimately save state and local taxpayers money as well.

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