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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘A time to test our character’

Shirleane Abbott of Garden Valley, a psycho-social rehabilitation services provider who survived her own struggles with mental illness, told lawmakers, "What we need is more PSR, not less." Idaho shouldn't go back to relying on hospitalization, she said. "This is really a time to test our character."

Shaun Tobler, who is with Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, said people who've been cut from state mental health services are suffering and even dying. "We've had at least 10 deaths in Pocatello in the last year of those people that were on their caseload," he said. "This is life and death. ... These people cannot advocate for themselves. ... People are dying. ... Because they're people with disabilities, because they're people with mental illness, we don't pay attention. Please pay attention."

Steve Young of Parma, the 70th person to testify today, said his severely autistic son qualifies for institutionalization, but he's not institutionalized, "because we love him and we want to care for him at home." He receives home-based care. His wife, Laura Young, said, "I wish they would find other ways to cut rather than cut the children that need it the most."

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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