I got these publications as a State Senator and read them avidly. “Facts, Figures and Trends” published by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Now, on the Board of Health and Welfare, I get them again. You could read them online. I get great joy from turning the pages and folding over a corner. But they are printed at your, the taxpayers’ expense.

The trends, the facts are thrilling.

That’s a joke.

But if you are in charge of spending the public’s money, I believe you should pay attention to how it is spent. I watch our current batch of Idaho legislators and I don’t think they are paying much attention. You should be.

Let me draw your attention to the plot twist on page 57. This pertains to the Division of Family and Community Services, specifically Foster Care. The graphs clearly show that the number of children placed in foster care has gone down over the past four years. Yeah, the crowd roars, less children needing state intervention. But then it shows the cost of this to the taxpayers has tripled. If I was still on the Budget committee, I’d be looking at that pretty closely.

To be honest, you should know the IDHW, and the oversight committee has their eyes on this. But you, the voter, the taxpayer should too. Ask your legislator at the next town hall when he asks for your vote. I’ll bet you get a blank look.

We shouldn’t overlook the foreshadowing on page 31. This is a different chapter concerning the Division of Behavioral Health. The data here is deep, but on the forementioned page numbers struck me. Facts, don’t you love them?

The table shows the number of children served by this division over the last four years. In 2020 3,300. In 2023, 1715.

What? Are there suddenly half as many children needing mental services? Indeed, the number of court-ordered services dropped by 25% too. Are our youth suddenly more resilient? Are we doing something great that we should all know about?

Then I turn to page 35. The plot deepens.

Adults have also seen a decline in services. Over the four-year trend, 2000 less adults needed behavioral health services between 2020 and 2023. Only a quarter needed other services, housing, meds, employment.

Don’t skip over the footnotes.

Should footnotes be at the bottom of the page or in the back? Same type, or smaller? This one was on the same page, but small enough print I needed to squint.

Medicaid expansion happened in January 2020. Many adults needing behavioral health services became eligible for this health insurance and then moved to that care.

Do your legislators know such care is paid for with 75% federal dollars? Taxes pay for all of this. How do you want to pay?

Of course, maybe you just don’t think folks need this care. These are important questions. You might want to ask your representative.

I’ll skip over the bouncing numbers of communicable diseases on page 132.

At community town halls I have heard my representative say about Medicaid: “We can’t just keep paying for this, we have to get a handle on these expenses.”

I would encourage our representatives to get a handle on the expense by embracing the numbers. Only by paying attention to details can we manage a budget.

But then the question comes, should we embrace our fellow citizens with the comfort of health insurance?

Do you even understand where Medicaid money is spent?

You legislators are still whining about Medicaid Expansion. But the annual taxpayers’ cost for those coved by this health insurance is about $7500. While we taxpayers pay over $20,000 a year for the health insurance for our legislators.

Maybe you just think you deserve it, and others don’t.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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