Idaho Governor Little calls for reversal of health care costs in the Panhandle

Governor Brad Little says northern Idaho needs to restore health care for women as many doctors leave the state because of the state's strict abortion laws.

During an AARP town hall meeting on Wednesday, Little took a call from Ed in Bonners Ferry.

He informed the governor that his son and pregnant daughter-in-law were leaving the country because the nearest obstetric clinic was a 90-minute drive south in Coeur d'Alene.

“Boundary and Bonner [counties] are my most difficult cases,” Little replied, referring to the lack of medical care in the region.

Bonner General Health closed its obstetrics practice last year because, in addition to demographic changes, the state's “political climate” was affecting recruitment and retention.

Little said it was crucial to restore practice in this area.

“We must do everything in our power to bring pediatrics back to where it belongs, not just for babies but for the health of all women, and I am committed to doing what I can,” he said.

Little's aides did not immediately respond to questions about possible policy steps he might take to achieve that goal.

The governor said his Idaho Launch scholarship program could help address the shortage of skilled workers in nursing and other health care fields.

“One glimmer of hope is the fact that one in ten high school graduates want to work in the health care field. And if we can help them do that and ensure that the costs don't get too high, we can really help with this problem.”

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