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Idaho likely to spurn federal cash for exchange

BOISE — With the 2012 session half over, opposition from the Legislature’s conservatives has all but ended Gov. Butch Otter’s plan for using a $20.3 million federal grant for a state-run insurance exchange required by Congress’ health care overhaul.

Discussions between legislators, Otter and the insurance industry have shifted toward a state-run exchange created without federal money, but that’s sufficient to reassure U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials Idaho isn’t ignoring them, The Associated Press reports.

This approach walks a thin line between practical and political considerations: Doing enough to keep Washington, D.C., bureaucrats from imposing a federal exchange on Idaho, while letting “Obamacare”-loathing legislators tell constituents they didn’t bend to the hated federal government.

Democrats fear spurning the federal cash is tantamount to Idaho cutting off its nose to spite its face.

McGee Refuses To Show Med Records

Neither Sen. John McGee nor his lawyer has responded to requests to release medical records backing up his lawyer's claim in court that a concussion contributed to his bizarre behavior before a Father's Day drunken driving arrest, the Associated Press reports. Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney issued a statement saying no inmate “reported or was diagnosed with a concussion” during the time that McGee was jailed, and that all inmates booked into the jail are screened by a medical professional and provided appropriate treatment/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: What do you make of the refusal by state Sen. John McGee and his record to show McGee's medical records?

Lawyer: McGee Concussion To Blame

Scott McKay, defense attorney for Sen. John McGee, provided a statement after McGee entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor this morning: “Senator McGee is an outstanding person and a dedicated public servant who has served Idaho citizens with distinction for the better part of the last decade. Like all of us, he is not perfect and he made a mistake when he drank too much following a recent golf event. However, Senator McGee’s behavior after leaving the golf course was affected by factors beyond the consumption of alcohol. He fell after leaving the golf course as documented by bruising and cuts on his knee and a significant bump and laceration on his head. Senator McGee has been examined by a respected neurologist who has concluded that as a result of this fall, he likely sustained a concussion prior to the events leading to his arrest." More from Eye On Boise here.

Question: Are you buying what attorney McKay's trying to sell — that a concussion was responsible for Sen. McGee's strange behavior?

Bills to keep kids out of the game until a concussion’s checked pass both House and Senate…

Prompted by the case of a high school football player paralyzed by two concussions, Washington’s state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would require a medical check before such players are allowed back in the game.

“This bill would protect children. That’s really what it’s all about,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the bill’s prime sponsor.

The House passed a similar bill unanimously last week.

Both bills were spurred by Maple Valley teen Zack Lystedt, who as a junior-high student in 2006 slammed head-first into the field while tackling a runner. After a break, he returned to the game. Minutes after it ended, he collapsed, unable to see. Three years later, the brain damage has left him unable to walk.

Senate Bill 5763 would require that any player suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury be removed from the practice or game. The athlete wouldn’t be allowed to play again until he or she is checked out by a licensed health care provider.

One of the few to speak against the bill was state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn. She said she’s worried that the bill could require parents to take their kids to a doctor for minor bumps.

“Sometimes it’s just a little bonk on the head,” said Roach.

Yes, Lystedt’s injury was terrible and unfortunate, she said. But she suggested that the bill’s an overreaction.

“What would be like having 4-5 drownings a year — which we do have — so we go in and fill in all the backyard swimming pools?” she said. “We forbid people from swimming in lakes?”

Sen. Don Benton argued that the bill could curtail youth sports by forcing them to have a doctor on the sidelines.

“Nobody wants to shut down youth football or youth basketball, and this could do that,” he said. Both he and Roach voted for the bill.

Most lawmakers said they see the bill as a needed protection for kids.

“The bill does not say if you get hit in th ehead with a volleyball you can’t come back and play until you have a note from your doctor,” said Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley. There are clear symptoms of a concussion, she said. Major problems like bleeding in the brain, she said, “are infrequent but disastrous.”

Coaches and parents aren’t necessarily as vigilant as they should be about injuries in the heat of a game, said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island.

The Senate bill says that the licensed health care provider can be a volunteer. It also exempts the person from civil liability, except in cases of gross negligence.

NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Roach had voted against the bill. She did not. The lone vote against the bill was from Sen. Bob Morton, R-Kettle Falls.

UPDATE: Here’s Roach: