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Idaho lawmakers tweak crisis standards of care

Courtesy of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Crisis standards of care were in effect throughout much or all of Idaho most of fall 2021.

Sponsors say the measure protects patient rights and adds accountability.

Most or all of Idaho was under a crisis standards of care designation through the fall of 2021, during the peak of the delta wave. Now that it’s over, the legislature has voted to make changes to the way the standards are implemented.

Sen. Todd Lakey (R-Nampa) introduced a bill to make changes to ensure that a crisis designation runs for as short a period of time as is needed.

“We’ve essentially been operating kind of without a net when it comes to crisis standards of care and this bill puts appropriate oversight and sideboards and patient protections in place when crisis standards of care are implemented," he said.

David Ripley from the group Idaho Chooses Life helped to write the bill.

“The bill secures basic patient rights, even in the midst of a health care rationing crisis. It creates accountability and requiring specific mitigation measures to help us get out of crisis standards of care at the earliest possible moment. And it creates an advocate for patients and families dealing with a health care crisis," Ripley said during testimony before the House Health and Welfare Committee last week.

That advocate is an office of the ombudsman in the governor’s office, which is to be activated during a crisis so people have someone to contact with questions and complaints.

Crisis standards of care were activated in the Panhandle Health District early last September and expanded to the entire state 10 days later. The designation was rescinded two months later in all but the Panhandle Health District and a month after that in north Idaho.

The Senate approved the bill Thursday. The House had already done so. Therefore the bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.