Ada County Healthcare for All

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Citydesk just got off the phone with Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman, whom we called to ask when she planned to file for the governor's race.

Ullman was pulling up to the Central District Health Department for the first of three pilot health screening clinics that she helped organize. Students with Idaho State University's Meridian Health Sciences Center are giving free checkups to Ada County residents as we speak.

The clinic will be open until 7 p.m. tonight at Central District Health, 707 N. Armstrong Place.

The county put up $600 for three pilot free clinics—the next one will be 3-7 p.m., April 23 at the Vineyard in Garden City—aimed at low-income people without health insurance. Ullman said the county has budgeted $3.4 million this year for indigent care, paying the hospital bills for county residents who end up in the emergency room and cannot afford to pay their bills.

The health screenings are an effort to get people treatment before they have to check themselves into the emergency room.

“People who don’t otherwise have access to that service, if we can get them in here at an extremely low cost then we as a community are better off,“ Ullman said, adding that taxpayers are paying one way or the other and that preventive care is less expensive.

She also made a political point with the program. Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter has asked counties to pay for larger and larger shares of indigent care, while at the same time decrying health care mandates coming from the Federal government.

"We have socialized medicine, but we have it in its absolute worst form," Ullman said. “We don’t provide preventive care but we let people get so sick they end up in the emergency room.“

A half hour later, Ullman called back to say that in the first half-hour of the screenings, a man came in with dangerously high blood pressure and was taken to the emergency room, possibly saving his life.

How many lives did Otter, Rammell, Kemp or Allred save today?