Health

Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Consumer advocates and health insurers are pushing Texas lawmakers to address surprise medical bills during this year’s legislative session.

Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

Olga Kauffman is tired of the politics surrounding Medicaid.

Kauffman, a San Antonio resident who works as a health specialist with Urban Strategies, a group that builds public housing and provides services to residents, says she sees families struggle every day because of lack of access to health care and insurance.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court has lifted a lower court order that blocked Texas from booting Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid, potentially imperiling the health care provider’s participation in the federal-state health insurance program.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Kevin Drapela and his wife, Cori-Beth Tuite, found themselves at a food bank Wednesday – something they never expected.

The IRS employees from Taylor were among the federal workers who attended a resource fair hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank in response to the ongoing government shutdown.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A growing number of Texans are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with surprise hospital bills. However, the program is likely only addressing a fraction of the surprise medical bills Texans receive in the mail every year. 

Shelby Knowles / The Texas Tribune

The Democratic coalition of states battling Texas over the fate of the Affordable Care Act has formally begun the process of challenging a Dec. 14 decision ruling the law unconstitutional in its entirety.

Courtesy of Andrea Hernandez

Andrea Hernandez ended up in a McAllen hospital after a drunken driver hit the car she was in.

“I basically got amnesia because of how hard I hit my head,” the 22-year-old says.

Like many families in Texas, Hernandez’s family is from Mexico. Her father speaks only Spanish, so she says it was valuable that her doctor was from Mexico and spoke Spanish, too.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The song says "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."  But for some, the holiday cannot come and go soon enough because with them come the holiday blues - that feeling of anxiety and depression that can surge at the holidays. But what about more persistent mental illness? How do we as a society handle that?

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Soon after a federal judge ruled Friday that the Affordable Care Act was invalid, Gov. Greg Abbott told The Dallas Morning News that Texas would create its own health care system if the decision is upheld.

It won't be that simple. Here are some things you should know about Abbott’s plan:

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor has a history of siding with Republicans on ideologically motivated lawsuits. His ruling last week, in which he sided with the GOP on a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, was not a one-off.

In fact, critics say, his history is ultimately why that case was before him in the first place.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 1 million Texans signed up for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended the day after a federal judge ruled the law is invalid. That's almost 40,000 fewer sign-ups than during the last enrollment period.

Rick Bowmer / AP

The Affordable Care Act faces a new legal challenge after a federal judge in Texas ruled the law unconstitutional on Friday. The decision risks throwing the nation's health care system into turmoil should it be upheld on appeal. But little will be different in the meantime.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A federal judge in Fort Worth has ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, in a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general and two Republican governors. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

An estimated 17 percent of Travis County residents under the age of 65 were uninsured in 2018, a new report finds. That's up from 15 percent last year. Seventy-one percent of those uninsured were from working families.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Race and geography are good predictors of whether a woman in Texas will have a severe complication during childbirth, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler studied public hospital records submitted to the state from 2011 to 2016 for instances of severe maternal morbidity, which are complications that could almost kill a woman who is giving birth that include heart attacks, severe bleeding, eclampsia and blood clots, among other things.

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

With less than two weeks of open enrollment left, Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities says it's reporting a noticeable decline in the number of Latinos signing up for health insurance through healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A new study suggests a proposed Trump administration policy could discourage immigrant families from enrolling their citizen children in public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.

Rick Bowmer/AP

For the second time in three years, life expectancy in the U.S. has ticked downward. In three reports issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a series of statistics that revealed some troubling trend lines — including rapidly increasing rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide.

CDC Director Robert Redfield described the data as "troubling."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

After a decade of decline in the rate of uninsured children in Texas, a new study shows that rate is increasing again.

Julia Reihs / KUT

UT Austin’s two university unions are set to offer free tampons and pads for students who may struggle to afford them.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

More people in Central Texas sought help getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act during the first week of open enrollment this year than during the same period last year, according to a group that helps people get plans.

Cheryl Gerber for The Texas Tribune

NEW ORLEANS ­— The federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday morning about whether Texas should be able to ban doctors from performing the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texans who want to buy health insurance plans on the individual marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, can start enrolling today through Dec. 15 on healthcare.gov.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Editor's note: Shortly after this story aired, Rodriguez said St. David's reached out to him to discuss possible financial assistance. According to Rodriguez, the matter has been settled and he now owes only $1,600 as of Nov. 14.

There’s an uptick in health insurance companies not covering emergency room care, according to a consumer advocacy group.

Washington, D.C.-based Consumers for Quality Care said the increase is the result of the Trump administration pushing less regulated health care plans in its effort to undo protections created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

University of Texas System

It may not feel like it, but it's flu season. Though the virus typically reaches its peak in winter, when exactly are you supposed to get your flu shot? 

Dr. Coburn Allen, an infectious disease specialist, physician and associate professor of pediatrics at UT Austin's Dell Medical School, says, like many factors surrounding the flu, it's all about timing. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Update: Travis County commissioners unanimously passed Central Health's budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2018-19. Included in the $258 million budget is $26 million for Sendero Health Plans.

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Our original post continues: 

The Travis County Commissioners Court is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Central Health's budget, which includes money for the nonprofit Sendero Health Plans.

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

A federal judge in Austin has blocked Texas' so-called fetal burial law.

U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra voided the law, which the Texas Legislature passed in 2017, on the grounds that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

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