Guest Opinions

Nongovernmental health care alternatives exist

Debbie Wheeler
Debbie Wheeler

There have been many articles in the news lately about the health care gap and what the Idaho Legislature is going to do about it. Many people feel the only solution to the problem is for the state and federal government to spend more money. We can see what government interference through the Affordable Care Act has brought about. Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed, while benefits have declined due to higher deductibles. I would like to suggest that there is a better way.

As the executive director of Hands of Hope Northwest, a nonprofit organization based in Nampa, I have the opportunity to see the problems with our health care system every day. A person on Medicare or Medicaid needs a wheelchair after surgery or injury. Even if the client does qualify to receive a wheelchair, the paperwork takes up to three weeks to process. If a person needs the chair to get from the car to the house, this lengthy process just isn’t helpful. Hands of Hope Northwest is filling the need for medical equipment and can loan the equipment the same day it is needed, whether or not a bureaucrat thinks the recipient needs one or not. On average, we have on loan 900 pieces of equipment each month. This is just one example of how nonprofits can be a better alternative to government programs.

We are blessed in Southwest Idaho to have a number of free or sliding-scale clinics: Canyon County Community Clinic, Terry Reilly Health Services, Valley Family Health Care, and Wellness Tree Community Clinic, to name a few. Besides providing primary care, these clinics work with specialists who are willing to donate their time to care for their clients. There are also a number of clinics that specialize in women’s health and childbirth, with an emphasis on serving low-income families.

The Legislature needs to investigate what they can do to help these clinics, other nonprofits such as Hands of Hope Northwest, and the clients they serve, before the next legislative session.

Debbie Wheeler is the executive director of Hands of Hope Northwest and lives in Nampa.