Press Release from Governor Brad Little
Boise, Idaho – Idaho’s unprecedented advances in telehealth and healthcare access this year will be preserved long after COVID-19 with a new executive order Governor Brad Little signed today.
“Our loosening of healthcare rules since March helped to increase the use of telehealth services, made licensing easier, and strengthened the capacity of our healthcare workforce – all necessary to help our citizens during the global pandemic. We proved we could do it without compromising safety. Now it’s time to make those healthcare advances permanent moving forward,” Governor Little said.
Within days of Idaho’s first confirmed coronavirus case in March, Governor Little directed all state agencies to examine their rules, placing specific emphasis on increasing the state’s healthcare provider capacity and reducing barriers to healthcare access for Idaho citizens.
The result was more than 150 rules were waived temporarily. Executive Order 2020-13 signed today takes steps to make the rule waivers permanent by asking the agencies to finalize the rule changes for presentation to the Idaho Legislature in January of 2021.
“By suspending certain rules during the pandemic – such as allowing the use of Zoom, Facetime and other applications and making it easier for providers to offer telehealth services – we’ve been able to address the critical shortage of medical providers in every county in the state. This serves to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for Idaho families and businesses,” Governor Little added.
In telehealth, which allows for long-distance care via telecommunication rather than in-person care, Idaho went from 3,000 sessions during March through May last year to a staggering 117,000 sessions during the same time period this year – a 40-fold increase. Private insurers also took steps to increase the accessibility of telehealth services.
Governor Little also highlighted an executive order he signed earlier this month to shrink the size of state government. Executive Order 2020-10 consolidated 11 separate agencies into the new Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses, a move that will lead to efficiencies and result in better service at a lower cost for Idaho license holders.
The executive orders ensure Idaho keeps its status as the least regulated state in the country – a title Idaho achieved by working with legislators, agencies, and the public during Governor Little’s first year as governor. Idaho cut and simplified 75-percent of rules in a matter of months.
And with Governor Little’s Zero-Based Regulation executive order earlier this year, which forces a routine review of rule chapters annually, Idaho regulations will remain streamlined, user-friendly, and easy to understand moving forward.
“When we reduce regulatory friction, good jobs follow – something we need now more than ever before,” Governor Little said.