Health Care

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.

American Medical Association

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Patrice A. Harris, MD, a psychiatrist and president-elect of the American Medical Association. She'll serve for a year as president-elect and become the first African-American woman to lead the organization in 2019.

Harris talks about becoming a physician, her vision for the organization, mental health in the African-American community, and being the first African-American woman to lead the AMA.

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.

A hospital in Texas has cut ties with a nurse who apparently posted about a young patient with the measles in a Facebook group dedicated to "anti-vaxxers," people who reject the scientific evidence of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Screenshots show a self-identified nurse saying the sick child's symptoms helped her understand why people vaccinate their children, but that "I'll continue along my little non-vax journey with no regrets."

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.

Omolara Uwemedimo says it's hard to imagine what her parents, who immigrated to New York from Nigeria decades ago, would have done if they had had to choose between food stamps and getting their green cards.

Her parents worked factory jobs back then, but when her mother got pregnant with her, Uwemedimo says, the doctor put her on bed rest.

"She actually used food stamps when she was pregnant," Uwemedimo said. "And she says that pretty much saved them in terms of not having to move out of their apartment because of the fact that they had that help."

Caroline Covington

From Texas Standard:

Putting mental health services into primary care clinics is an idea that’s gained traction in recent years. In Texas, it came about partly out of necessity after the state mental health care system streamlined its services over a decade ago. An unintended consequence was that people with less severe mental health issues ended up seeking care in community clinics that weren’t fully equipped to care for 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

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."

Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard.

One of the burdens of a serious health condition, like cancer or a chronic immune disease, is the heavy medication necessary for treatment. The cost of one day’s medicine can be surprisingly expensive, and that doesn’t take into account the physical toll and side effects that the drugs can have on one’s body.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texans think the Legislature should expand Medicaid to more low-income people and make health care more affordable, according to a survey released today from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

Public health officials say housing prices are forcing low-income and minority communities farther east – and farther away from public resources in Travis County.

Courtesy of Integral Care

Kerstin Taylor’s home is evidence of a life rebuilt. It’s filled with her grandmother’s paintings, Christian crosses, photos and stuffed animals.

“They all have names,” she said in reference to those stuffed animals. “That has to do with, truly, the family I never had – my broken family.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

There is yet another health care funding crisis before Congress.

After months of concern from advocates and families, lawmakers approved long-term funding two weeks ago for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. They didn’t do the same, however, for the country’s federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which provide health care to low-income people.  The program is set to lose funding in March.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Open enrollment for health plans through the Affordable Care Act starts Nov. 1. But, this year, cutbacks in federal money for outreach efforts for potential enrollees could mean fewer people signing up for health insurance in Texas.

That gap in federal outreach means the work of getting people signed up could fall squarely on local advocates like Vitoria Ortega of Foundation Communities.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Graham-Cassidy, the latest Republican health care bill, would take all the money for Obamacare programs and redistribute it to states through a block grant program. That means states would get to decide how the money gets spent.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Republicans in Congress are pushing yet another plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Texas, at first glance, looks like one of the big beneficiaries in the short term.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A federal program that provides health insurance for about 390,000 Texas children must be reauthorized by Congress by the end of the month.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

Almost exactly 12 years ago today, Texas was sheltering people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The relief effort hit a lot of snags, and relief workers learned from those snags. Now, those lessons are being applied to treating people dealing with the aftermath of Harvey.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A lot of attention has gone to the relatively few counties that may not have an insurer next year in the individual marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. In most of the country, however, marketplace enrollees will have options.

That’s especially true in Central Texas, where folks looking to buy insurance are going to have even more insurers to choose from.

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., returned to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday after a brain cancer diagnosis to help Republican leadership begin debate on health care.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

WASHINGTON — A Texas GOP congressman says if the three female Republican senators who oppose a bill repealing Obamacare were men from South Texas, he might challenge them to a duel. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

For Carol Elliott, a Port Aransas resident in her early 60s, the Affordable Care Act is not a failure.

“The Affordable Care Act saved my life,” the musician says.

Elliott lived in Nashville for a long time, but has spent the last 15 years living in the island town in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas shore.

She says money has always been tight, and she’s had to cut corners through the years. That’s often meant she’s been priced out of health insurance.

Spencer Selvidge / KUT News

From Texas Standard:

As Senate Republican leaders reveal another version of their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, taking politics out of the health care picture may be just the medicine needed. Political noise aside, the fact remains that health care costs are still too high, and many individuals can’t afford coverage. Experts say the political debate is essentially moot until the financial barriers to care are sorted out.

Sen. Ted Cruz talks to members of a town hall in Austin on Thursday about health care.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

At a town hall-style forum in Austin on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz said it was "critical" for Republicans to honor their promise of repealing the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

At an event Wednesday night, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was met by about 150 protesters who oppose the Senate's efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On a hot evening, they stood outside a hotel in McKinney, a north Dallas suburb, shouting "shame on Ted" and "save Medicaid."

The by-invitation, town hall-style event was held one day after the senator's appearance in McAllen was disrupted by protesters concerned about health care as well as immigration.

Ayan Mittra

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing hard to keep the Senate health care bill's prospects alive, amid a rollercoaster week at the U.S. Capitol. 

On Tuesday, Senate Republican leaders postponed taking up a major overhaul of the health care system as several Republicans and all of the chamber's Democrats maintained opposition. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

One of the structures that has allowed more than 960,000 Texans to gain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act would be a thing of the past under the Senate repeal bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Demonstrators and advocacy groups held a health care rally and “die-in” today at the state Capitol to protest the Republicans’ proposed health care bill.

CHART: Who Wins, Who Loses With Senate Health Care Bill

Jun 27, 2017
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.

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