Health care in Idaho: Will there be a doctor in the house?

By catching health issues early and providing timely care, we can avoid more costly treatments, writes guest columnist Toni Lawson.

September 26, 2023 4:00 am
Healthcare worker giving support and love to a patient

By catching health issues early and providing timely care, we can avoid more costly treatments in Idaho, writes guest columnist Toni Lawson. (Getty Images)

As one of the fastest-growing states, Idaho finds itself at a crossroads in health care policy with important decisions on the horizon. The Idaho Hospital Association has been closely monitoring this evolving landscape and how voters see the issues. Recent statewide polling reveals a clear message: Idahoans are concerned about access to health care in the coming years and willing to pay to preserve those services. 

With the rise in population comes an increased demand for health care. The poll asked voters if Idaho has enough health care resources like doctors and hospitals for everyone in the next 10 years. A resounding 68 percent of people said no. This speaks volumes about the concerns that our residents have regarding the future of health care availability.

When asked about the idea of controlling health care costs and/or limiting services, two out of three Idaho voters said they want to safeguard access to services, even if it means higher costs. They understand health care is not just another resource; it’s a lifeline that can mean the difference between survival or tragedy. With increasing challenges to recruit and retain health care professionals in Idaho, I wonder … when your family needs that lifeline, will there be a doctor in the house? 

Access to health care is part of a strong foundation of a healthy community. When individuals can readily access the care they need, preventative measures can be taken, early diagnoses can be made, and chronic conditions can be managed effectively, reducing the burden on the system. 

We cannot ignore the issue of cost associated with preserving access to services. No one wants to see health care expenses spiral out of control. That’s why Idaho hospitals are investing in coordinated health care models that are demonstrating real cost savings. By catching health issues early and providing timely care, we can avoid more costly treatments. Simply cutting services is not the secret to effectively cutting costs.

It’s time to invest in health care infrastructure, increase the number of health care professionals, expand capacity, and improve access in rural areas. The goal should be to ensure that quality care remains within reach for all Idahoans, regardless of location or financial status.

Idahoans understand there is a critical connection between health and access to care. Policymakers should take these findings to heart as they shape the future of our state. It’s time to ask lawmakers to commit to creating a healthier, more resilient Idaho.


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Toni Lawson
Toni Lawson

Toni Lawson has worked on a broad range of health care issues in the policy and advocacy arena for over 20 years. In 2006, she joined the Idaho Hospital Association as vice president for government relations, where she has successfully advocated on behalf of hospitals throughout the state of Idaho and the communities they serve.