Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez moderates a panel on federal immigration policy in July 2018.
Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Ashley Lopez joined KUT in January 2016. She covers politics and health care, and is part of the NPR-Kaiser Health News reporting collaborative. Previously she worked as a reporter at public radio stations in Louisville, Ky.; Miami and Fort Myers, Fla., where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.

Ashley was also part of NPR’s Political Reporting Partnership during the 2016 presidential election. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The Texas Senate race wasn't supposed to be competitive this year. But thanks to an imaginative campaign, Beto O'Rourke has energized Democrats, drawing huge crowds and raising tens of millions of dollars in what was initially seen as a long-shot bid to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County commissioners have decided to push back a decision on whether Central Health should shut down its nonprofit health insurance company, known as Sendero. They said they will wait to vote until there is a public hearing.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For the first time in years, the uninsured rate in Texas is starting to climb again. After the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014, the state’s uninsured rate dropped from 22 percent to about 16 percent in 2016. However, that trend has started to move in another direction.

Emree Weaver for KUT

During the last legislative session, state lawmakers eliminated funding for the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement. It's last day was Aug. 31. 

The agency was small. Its budget was about $2 million. It had about two dozen full-time employees. Yet, it was trying to solve one of the biggest problems facing the state: racial inequities in government services. In other words, the agency was trying to tackle institutional racism.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Election administrators should use “human-readable paper ballots" by the 2020 presidential race, experts convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warned in a new report

After Russian hackers meddled in the 2016 elections, the academies convened a group of computer science and cybersecurity experts – as well as legal and election scholars and officials – to come up with recommendations for the next presidential election.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is challenging the Affordable Care Act at a hearing in federal court in Fort Worth today.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas Democrats see an opening during this year’s midterm election. They are hoping to pick up seats in Congress that they haven’t won in a long time, as well as a slew of seats down the ballot. To do that, though, the party will have to get Latinos in Texas – who don’t often go to the polls – to vote in higher numbers.

A Texas hospital that charged a teacher $108,951 for care after a 2017 heart attack told the patient Thursday it would slash the bill to $332.29 — but not before a story about the huge charge sparked a national conversation over what should be done to combat surprise medical bills that afflict a growing number of Americans.

The story of Drew Calver was first reported by NPR and Kaiser Health News on Monday as part of the "Bill of the Month" series, which examines U.S. health care prices and the troubles patients run up against in the $3.5 trillion industry.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas Republicans are facing what could be one of the most serious challenges from Democrats in recent history – and Hispanic voters could be part of that challenge.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A federal lawsuit filed by a group of doctors in Austin is accusing a company hired by St. David’s of violating a state law that prohibits non-physicians from practicing medicine.

Editor's note: Shortly after this story by Kaiser Health News and NPR was published and broadcast on Monday, St. David's said it was now willing to accept $782.29 to resolve the $108,951 balance because Drew Calver qualifies for its "financial assistance discount." In a statement, the hospital said this offer was contingent on Calver submitting his application for a discount based on his household finances. Calver disputed that he owes any additional money to St. David's and said this situation should have been resolved long before now.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

With another major election around the corner and continued threats of Russian hacking, state and local election officials in Texas are focused on making voter registration databases in the state more secure.

“Where there could potentially be vulnerabilities is in the voter registration database – which is connected to the internet,” said Sam Taylor, a spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Travis County Commissioners Court approved an $8 million contract for a slate of new voting machines that local officials have said are more secure and create a paper trail.

During a meeting Tuesday with commissioners, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said voters have been asking for a paper record of their votes for years.

“We are finally going to get this to them,” she said.

Julia Reihs / KUT

In a little-noticed court filing last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a federal judge to get rid of a popular part of the Affordable Care Act in Texas. In particular, his request could affect a part of the law that protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance or being priced out of a health plan.

States across the country are in the process of receiving grants from the federal government to secure their voting systems.

Earlier this year Congress approved $380 million in grants for states to improve election technology and "make certain election security improvements."

But how states use that money is up to them.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Researchers and data experts at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin say a new database will help doctors treat children with asthma, while helping parents better understand how to reduce the frequency of attacks.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Roughly a third of Texas high schools have requested voter registration forms from the Texas Secretary of State’s office, a new report from the Texas Civil Rights Project finds.

Requesting forms from the state agency is the first step schools must take so they can register students to vote. Texas law requires schools to give eligible students these forms at least twice each school year.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas election officials have been removing more people from the state’s voter rolls ever since the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

The group says the court’s decision to specifically strike down one provision of the law led to the rise in voter purges.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Trump administration recently announced big cuts to a program that helps people sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Residents of the Stony Point neighborhood are still reeling after the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Department turned roughly a dozen members of the community over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) late last month.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Many Texans are struggling to afford health care, according to a new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

The study found more than half of those surveyed (55 percent) said it is difficult for them and their families to afford health care; a quarter said it is "very difficult."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas Democrats are campaigning on the issue of how lawmakers draw political maps ahead of the 2018 elections. They say partisan gerrymandering is solely a state issue right now, because the U.S. Supreme Court didn't rule this term on whether the practice is legal.    

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Texas voters are split on whether the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision creating a woman’s right to an abortion in the U.S., a new survey finds.

Public Policy Polling conducted the survey on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America. It found that 47 percent of Texas voters don’t want to see the landmark ruling overturned. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they would be less likely to support their senator if he voted to confirm a candidate who would overturn Roe.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A group of students at Rice University embarked on a trip to Austin last spring to study maternal mortality in Texas. The students say health disparities and social justice issues are at the core of why some women are dying while pregnant or shortly after giving birth.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This post has been updated.

Religious leaders say residents of a Del Valle neighborhood are feeling targeted after more than a dozen people were turned over to immigration officials during a Bastrop County traffic sting last month.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Abortion rights advocates in Texas say the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy raises the stakes for laws passed by the state Legislature.

Kennedy has been the swing vote on rulings upholding access to abortions in the U.S. for decades. Most recently, he voted to strike down a Texas law known as House Bill 2, which forced the closure of multiple abortion clinics across the state.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Civil rights attorneys say the Supreme Court's decision Monday in a Texas redistricting case showed how difficult it is to prove discrimination in voting laws.

The Supreme Court mostly sided with Republican lawmakers in the case, which challenged state House and congressional maps. Plaintiffs had argued lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities when they drew up the maps.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court partially upheld Texas’ political maps in a 5-4 ruling today.

Julia Reihs

Immigration took center stage at the Texas Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth last weekend. Delegates from across the state are concerned about the Trump administration policy that was separating families at the border until it was reversed last week.

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