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Eye On Boise

Wed., Nov. 30, 2011, 3:23 p.m.

Idaho looks to phase out program for patients with end-stage renal disease

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is proposing to phase out the state's end-stage renal disease program, a fully state-funded program that now serves 169 participants, has 39 people on its waiting list and has a $527,700 budget. A new Office of Performance Evaluations report on the program supports that move, finding that the 1970 program now duplicates other programs and no longer matches the mission of the agency under which it exists, the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

"I would be concerned about whether we're letting anybody fall through the cracks in the transition," said Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow. The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee voted to follow up on the report in three months. The program was created when dialysis treatment and kidney transplants were relatively new procedures and weren't covered by insurance; now, end-stage renal disease is covered by Medicare, though the state program covers uncovered expenses such as medications, travel expenses for treatment, insurance premiums and limited transplant services.

Otter is recommending phasing out the program by June 30, 2013, to allow current participants time to make other arrangements.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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