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Post Register: Idaho Falls Woman Suffered 'Death by Poverty'


  • Kelsey Hawes

Sunday morning's Idaho Falls Post Register ran a story chronicling the tragedy of an eastern Idaho woman, one of tens of thousands of Idahoans in the so-called "Medicaid gap," who died while hoping for a turnaround from the Idaho Legislature.

In the spring, Boise Weekly spoke with Idahoans who anxiously watched as Idaho GOP leadership pushed away two separate recommendations from a bi-partisan committee to pursue an expansion of Medicaid as soon as possible. It's estimated as many as 78,000 Idahoans are in the Medicaid gap.

This morning's Post Register reported among the 78,000 was Jenny Steinke, who fought asthma for nearly a decade before her death in September. The cost of insurance coverage for her and her husband was just out of reach, yet they were ineligible for care through the state health insurance exchange or for Medicaid.

On Sept.1, Steinke's inhaler wasn't working and when she suffered a severe asthma attack, she was rushed to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Three days later, she died of a brain herniation. A family member said she suffered "death by poverty."

Steinke's story is but one of the many reasons Dr. Ken Krell, director of critical care at EIRMC, continues to testify before the Idaho Legislature and write guest columns for the newspaper, saying there are too many cases like Steinke's that are preventable.