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BOISE -- Increased mental health services, improved dental care coverage and Medicaid expansion topped the list of priorities presented to Idaho lawmakers during a hearing on health and welfare issues.

About three dozen people testified at the joint Senate and House Health and Welfare committee hearing Friday morning, many focusing on what they said is a dire need for increased access to mental health care.

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson told lawmakers his department responds to an average of 20 calls each day for residents experiencing a mental crisis, and Boise loses an average of one person a day to mental illness.

He says the state needs to treat people with mental illnesses early instead of waiting for them to reach a crisis.

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