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Shoot the messenger

Last year I spoke too soon.

I applauded Representative Blanksma for making some recommendations to her body. This year I’m offering raspberries.

She recommended expanded coverage for kids in the CHIP program, as well as a recommendation to expand Medicaid coverage to women to 12 months after they deliver their baby. These were recommendations that came from the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. This Board had been counting more and more Idaho moms die before or after they delivered their babies. Idaho now has a higher maternal death rate than Nicaragua. And Cuba, and practically every developed country in the world.

Except, the dismal standard, the great USA. This richest country in the world has a maternal mortality rate three times that of France, and twice South Korea’s. So maybe we should be proud Idaho’s maternal death rate is below our national average. It’s all relative, right. We are sure to protect the “preborn child”, but moms can die, I guess.

So, while Idaho has been making itself the banner state for abortion restrictions, we have been watching more infants, more moms die around childbirth. This doesn’t make me proud. Maybe it does you.

The MMRC was established in 2019. But the establishing legislation included a sunset in 2023. And the sun set without the legislature renewing it. The MMRC had as members an OB/Gyn, a Family doc, a midwife, a coroner, and a social worker. This sort of diversity makes good sense.

Idaho is the only state in the union that does not review maternal deaths. But that’s another word for “freedom”, maybe.

I would be considering myself too important to think my applause of Blanksma’s actions last year doomed them. I sure hope not. But that was always the risk for an Idaho Democrat. Sometimes it’s not the good sense the speaker offers, but the label attached. When I was in the legislature, I paid close attention to this. I should be now, too, but I’m getting too old for nonsense.

In fact, the guy who wanted Idaho to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee contacted me when I was a State Senator, back in 2016. I was busy then not getting Medicaid Expansion done. I listened to him, I agreed with his idea, then I asked him what he knew of Idaho politics.

He admitted very little. I gave him the names of some Republican legislators, now long gone, who might be able to advance such an idea.

I would hope my criticism this year of Representative Blanksma’s “compromise” doesn’t spur their adoption. But she has proposed a solution this is horribly unwise. If I was Trumpian, I would use different words.

Since I am retired, I guess I am free now to piss off the Idaho Board of Medicine. That is not my goal, but it may be the outcome of this rant.

Blanksma may see the value in having maternal mortality review. But her suggestion this year is that maternal mortality review be a function of the Idaho Board of Medicine.

The Idaho Board of Medicine has had the responsibility of licensing and disciplining its members. I have commented previously on how I thought they were doing.

I have known some of the Board members over the years, and I respect them. Doctors don’t always want to confront their colleagues. Will this review lead to discipline? Is that how it will be seen by the medical community? If so, frank considerations of actions and outcomes will be fraught. This is the wrong place to put this.

The previous MMRC was housed in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, a bugaboo for Republican legislators. Maybe that’s why Blanksma picked the Board of Medicine. Bad choice.

 

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