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Health care plan turns back clock

With so many ideas and proposals swirling around health care, it can be hard to keep up.

The latest effort in the Gem State is the concept of a medical home, and although the idea is a way to propel us into the future of medical care, it’s actually a throwback to traditional care.

We often rush to the emergency room or urgent care when something’s wrong. Many times, that could be prevented with regular trips to one’s usual doctor, now being called the “home doctor.”

“It is kind of returning to the roots of traditional medicine,” said Dr. Reed Ward of Dr. Ward’s Family Practice.

“It’s kind of a nostalgic throwback to how it used to be when everyone had their own family physician,” said Cindy Smith-Putnam, an Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center spokesperson.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s new two-year pilot project is a patient-centered model, where instead of seeing a different doctor every trip to the ER, you have your own doctor for just about everything.

Although Ward said he didn’t know all the details behind the governor’s plan, he said his practice is all about that personal, preventive care.

“Hopefully we’re able to avoid some of those more expensive episodes,” he said, which would keep his patients out of the emergency rooms and leaving places like EIRMC open .

“People will be getting the right care at the right time,” said Smith-Putnam. “Then people are receiving care at a less expensive rate and arguably are staying healthier.”

But is a primary care physician for every person in Idaho viable?

“It really is dependent on there being an adequate medical supply with providers, and right now in the state and nationally that isn’t the case,” she said.

Ward said there are enough physicians to go around in eastern Idaho.

“There are plenty of primary care providers in the region,” said Ward. “I believe this is a very viable approach to medicine.”

But both agree this type of care is a step in the right direction – even if that technically is a step back.

“Our hope is to get individuals to return to the traditional type of practice,” said Ward.

The collaborative is accepting provider applications for the pilot program now. Twelve to 15 practices will be selected to participate. Learn more at

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