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Eye On Boise

Fri., Feb. 3, 2012, 7:43 a.m.

Testimony: Impact of Medicaid cuts, funding priorities, suicide hotline…

As the testimony continues at this morning's public hearing on the state budget:

Jason Lowry of Nampa said last year's Medicaid cuts were supposed to be temporary because of the state budget crunch, but "unfortunately" were written into state law and made permanent. He urged legislative budget writers to restore cuts to services for people with developmental disabilities.

John Kihara of Pocatello told the committee he recently spent three weeks in a psychiatric ward after his preventive services were cut, costing the state $48,000; it would have been cheaper, he said, to continue preventive services. "When my depression gets this bad, it is a horrible state to be in," he said. "Preventative services, like PSR, help me maintain my mental health. Without the level of support I need I will probably end up in the hospital again."

Brian Hulet of Boise said he thought lawmakers hadn't learned the full story of the result of cuts they've made. "That full story includes people whose lives are put in jeopardy, whose lives are drastically changed," he said. "I ask that you take a look at the people who are being affected by the cuts."

Melissa Machacek, mother of a six-year-old son with serious disabilities, said, "I respectfully suggest that the committee replace money into the Medicaid program, and not into a rainy-day fund as suggested by Gov. Otter."

Rick Stover told the lawmakers he was deployed overseas with the military when he received a stunning call from his wife: Their 19-year-old son had just been found dead of a gunshot wound. "I pray that no parents ever have to bear the pain of losing their child, especially to suicide." Stover said his son, Nick, was an Eagle Scout at 13, a varsity football player, a person full of life. "Nick's suicide made me realize one thing and that is it could happen to anyone," Stover said. "I can't say for certain if there was a suicide prevention hotline it would have saved Nick's life, but it is a step in the right direction."

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.