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

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Public health experts in Texas are concerned that a growing number of American children are forgoing services like Medicaid and food stamps because their parents are undocumented. The trend could get worse, they say, if a proposed change to immigration policy goes through.  

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

Austin leads the nation in its balance of lower and higher incomes, according to a new online public health database from the Department of Population Health at the NYU School of Medicine.

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Congress is considering provisions in the latest farm bill that would roll back eligibility and impose strict work requirements for people receiving help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.  

About 3.8 million Texans rely on SNAP, the largest program for feeding low-income Americans.

El Paso
Jaime Loya/Flickr

Texas is among a small group of states with cases of Valley fever, a lung infection caused by breathing in a fungus called Coccidioides. The illness has been around for a long time, but hasn't really gotten much attention – until recently.

Montinique Monroe for KUTX

Austin’s a lonely place, but it’s not alone.

A new survey from health insurance giant Cigna found Austin has a higher-than-average concentration of people – particularly, younger people – who feel loneliness or disconnection from those around them.

Sixty percent of Austinites feel loneliness, compared to the 54 percent national average.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

State researchers say a majority of maternal deaths reported in Texas in 2012 were coded incorrectly.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers were able to confirm just 56 out of 147 obstetric deaths that year – that is, deaths occurring within 42 days of childbirth. 

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.”

Julia Reihs / KUT

Travis County doesn’t have to wait to address racial disparities in maternal mortality, a group of mothers, health care professionals, policymakers and community leaders said yesterday during a summit at Huston-Tillotson University.

Rachel Ralph works long hours at an accounting firm in Oakland, Calif., and coordinates much of her life via the apps on her phone.

So when she first heard several months ago that she could order her usual brand of birth control pills via an app and have them delivered to her doorstep in a day or two, it seemed perfect. She was working 12-hour days.

"Food was delivered; dinner was often delivered," Ralph says. "Anything I could get sent to my house with little effort — the better."

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Some of the state’s leading physicians vetted ideas this weekend to reduce the deaths of women while pregnant or shortly after giving birth.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The women’s health care program in Texas still has a long way to go.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Healthy Texas Women, the state’s family-planning program and the breast exam and cervical cancer screening program served about 250,000 women last year. In 2010, the year before Planned Parenthood was removed from the programs, the state served more than 350,000 women.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A disability rights group in Texas sent out a survey last week, trying to figure out how many of its members became disabled due to gun violence. The group says it’s an effort to collect data that will help inform Texas lawmakers on how they legislate guns.

Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

Texas is suing the federal government over President Barack Obama's landmark health law — again.

In a 20-state lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that after the passage of the GOP's tax plan last year — which also repealed a provision of the sweeping legislation known as "Obamacare" that required people to have health insurance — the health law is no longer constitutional.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This is a final note to a three-part series on maternal deaths in Texas.

Some of you might have noticed our series on Texas’ maternal mortality crisis this week didn't address the possibility of expanding access to health care in Texas – or how expansion impacted California's crisis. There are some reasons for that.

We looked at California’s successful effort to reduce maternal mortality in the state, and how Texas could possibly replicate that model to save lives. When it’s come up in the past, public health advocates typically point to the fact that Texas has the highest rate and number of uninsured people in the country – many of who are, of course, women.

Christie Hemm Klok for KUT

Part 3 of a three-part series.

As Texas looks to reduce its maternal mortality rate, there is one aspect of the crisis that is going to be harder to solve: Black women are more likely to die while pregnant or after giving birth than women from other racial or ethnic groups.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

Part 2 of a three-part series.

Texas officials have been slow to respond to the state's maternal mortality crisis.

In the last year, lawmakers have passed legislation aimed at improving death certificate data, and they extended the life of a task force investigating why mothers are dying. But advocates are pushing state health officials to do more.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

Part 1 of a three-part series.

An alarming number of women die while pregnant or shortly after giving birth in Texas. According to national researchers who say the U.S. as a whole has a serious problem, Texas is an “outlier” when it comes to its high rate of maternal deaths.

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.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Thousands of anti-abortion Texans are expected to rally on the steps of the state Capitol on Saturday for the Texas Rally for Life, an event recognizing the 45th anniversary of what they consider the "tragic" Roe v. Wade decision. 

But as attendees mourn the U.S. Supreme Court case that ensured a right to a legal abortion, they'll also celebrate. This past year, they say, has brought "sensational" gains for their movement.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Almost the same number of Texans who signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the last enrollment period signed up this time, according to the federal government. The figure took experts by surprise because there were federal cuts in funding for outreach and assistance.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Texas is over-reporting some of its maternal mortality data, a national study released today found.

The study, from the University of Maryland Population Research Center and published in the journal Birth, is a follow-up to a study released in August 2016 that found the maternal mortality rate in Texas had doubled in a two-year period.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

How people get mental health care is being reimagined in Austin.

Dell Medical School and several mental health providers are working together to figure out a better way to decide who gets what kind of care and who is going to give it to them.

Elizabeth Ann Colette / Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration is guaranteeing Texas $135 million to continue helping more than 450,000 uninsured children and pregnant women if Congress doesn’t renew authorization the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texas health officials held a public hearing today about a rule requiring health care facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains from abortions and miscarriages.

The provision was part of Senate Bill 8, an omnibus abortion bill that the Legislature passed during the special session over the summer.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

As Congressional Republicans prepare to send a tax overhaul to President Trump's desk, health care advocates worry about a possible repeal of the individual mandate, the part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires everyone to have health insurance. 

A possible repeal of the mandate could affect a lot of people in Texas, which has the highest percentage of people paying a tax penalty for not having health insurance, according to a New York Times analysis of IRS data.

This week, Colorado became the first state to notify families that children who receive health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program are in danger of losing their coverage.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

If Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) soon, it's not just Texas children who could lose access to health insurance; thousands of pregnant women could lose coverage, too.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

It’s been a week since open enrollment began for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and groups in Austin say they are experiencing a surge in sign-ups.

Health care activists were concerned that new policies from the Trump administration – including budget cuts for outreach and navigators – would lead to a drop in enrollment.

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