Ashley Lopez | KUT

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.

Ways to Connect

James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control

Texas is gearing up for Zika. Last week, state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, asked state health officials to come up with “a clear and concise plan” for dealing with a possible outbreak.

Even though leaders are on high alert, experts warn there are some underlying health care access issues in Texas that could make dealing with Zika difficult.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

On Tuesday a federal appeals court will take a second look at Texas’ controversial voter ID law. It’s one of the biggest voting rights battles ahead of this year’s presidential election, and a ruling from this court could be a final say on whether the state's law is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.


flickr/vcucns

By early this summer anyone in Texas will be able to purchase a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. The drug, naloxone, will be available with or without a prescription at Walgreens.

Like most of the country, Texas is dealing with an uptick in overdose deaths from opioids like heroin and prescription pain killers. 


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Oklahoma officials are seriously considering expanding Medicaid in that state under the Affordable Care Act. That means all of the states surrounding Texas – including New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana – could soon have expanded Medicaid programs. During a meeting at the Capitol yesterday, advocates said it’s an opportunity for Texas officials to revisit this issue back home.


Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Republican Party leaders and activists are meeting in Dallas this week for their bi-annual convention. Aside from discussing party platforms and future legislative priorities, leaders are trying to gin up excitement ahead of this year’s presidential election. However, that’s proving to be tougher than usual in a state that overwhelmingly supported Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary.


KUT

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zero, which explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

High speeds are one of the biggest killers on our roadways. As city officials tackle an uptick in traffic fatalities here in Austin, speed limits come up a lot.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Within hours of Austinites voting to keep current ride-hailing company regulations, including fingerprint-based background checks, state lawmakers began to debate whether those regulations should be left up to cities or the state.


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Now that Texas knows it will receive a Medicaid waiver for uncompensated care, state lawmakers are no longer on a tight deadline for figuring out what to do about its large uninsured population.

The federal government will continue to give the state billions of dollars to reimburse Texas hospitals to pay for care provided to people without insurance. But the deal only pushed the deadline back a year to December 2017, and advocates hope lawmakers will use that time to debate Medicaid expansion.


vcucns / flickr

The University of Texas at Austin is working to get a drug that stops people from overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and prescription pills, into the hands of resident advisors and campus police. The student government recently approved a resolution, and advocates are working to get a standing order at the school’s pharmacy.


Marhsa Miller / LBJ Library

As he addressed attendees of the Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Library Wednesday night, Secretary of State John Kerry reflected on his time both fighting in the Vietnam War and fighting against it. Kerry's address focused on how far the country has come in achieving diplomatic relationships with Vietnam, but he also said the country still has some lessons to learn from the war. 


Jay Godwin / LBJ Library

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stopped by the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin Tuesday night to talk about the Vietnam War. His appearance was part of a three-day Vietnam War Summit sponsored by the LBJ Presidential Library. Kissinger, who remains a controversial figure in American History, addressed his critics and defended his decisions.

Owen Parry / Texas Tribune

The business community is playing an increasingly important role in debates over anti-LGBT legislation. And, following controversial bills in North Carolina and Mississippi, businesses across Texas are gearing up to take on similar bills in the legislature next year.


austinrecovery.org

Thousands of Texans would have qualified for Medicaid if state lawmakers expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act. A recent report from the Obama administration finds 23 percent of those in that gap are dealing with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder. Without Medicaid, they have fewer options when they are looking for treatment.


Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

The state agency in charge of preventing and investigating child abuse in Texas is in turmoil. Child Protective Services recently lost a slew of investigators in Dallas. A four-year-old child that was on the state’s radar because of abuse was beaten to death. As a result, Governor Greg Abbott announced changes in leadership at the agency, but state lawmakers on Wednesday discussed even more possible changes.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Pregnant women are among the large number of people who are part of Texas' large uninsured population. For some women, that means they won’t see a doctor until late in their pregnancy. That’s why Dell Medical School at UT Austin – in partnership with a group of community health clinics – has launched a project aimed at changing the way women in Travis County get prenatal care.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

It’s only been about three weeks since the Federal Drug Administration changed the label for the country’s most widely used abortion drug, mifepristone. In Texas, advocates expected this would be a big deal, because Texas law mandates physicians administer the drug exactly like it says on the label—even though those methods weren’t common medical practice.


Chan Lone/Texas Tribune

There are fewer children in Texas without health insurance these days, but the state still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country. And according to a new study, certain races and ethnicities in the state are more likely than others to be uninsured.


via Texas Tribune

State government has been slow to respond to a rise in opioid deaths in Texas. But, with an ongoing epidemic in the state, university students have taken things into their own hands. Last week, they convinced the University of Texas System to change its own medical amnesty policy.


Michael Stravato, via Texas Tribune

Starting this morning, Texas lawmakers will spend two days discussing the state’s Medicaid program. On the docket is a look at services and ways to cut costs, but there's a big question looming in the discussion of whether a big chunk of that Medicaid money will even be there next year.

Calafellvalo via Flickr

Believe it or not, Texas is not among a short list of states that prohibits fetal tissue research. Advocates and researchers say that’s a good thing, because Texas is among a list of states that would be affected if the Zika virus makes it into the U.S. mosquito population. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

A simple label-change from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could have a sweeping impact on access to medication abortions in Texas. The federal agency announced on Wednesday it’s updating how the pill — not an emergency contraceptive like Plan B, but a medication taken to induce abortions — should be administered.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

Despite the excitement and wall-to-wall media coverage of this year’s presidential nominating contests, Texas still had one of the lowest voter participation rates during this year’s primaries – about 21 percent. 

Some Texans are trying to fix this problem by innovating the way we administer elections here in the Lone Star State.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr. for KUT News

For many women in Texas, abortions are getting harder to obtain.

The cost of the procedure is increasing, and so are the distances people have to travel to get one.

For some, that’s making it almost impossible to get an abortion, but there are groups here in Austin working to transport women to clinics far from home and help them cover the costs.


MIguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

More than half of Texas’ abortion clinics have closed in the past few years, thanks to the state’s controversial abortion law House Bill 2. As a result, the distance some women have to travel to get the procedure has increased fourfold. That’s according to a new study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Todd Wiseman for the Texas Tribune

Hospitals around the state are in a serious time crunch. Administrators are currently drafting their budgets for the next fiscal year, but a big chunk of federal funds they’ve relied on in years past isn’t a sure thing this time around.


James Gathany/CDC

Mosquito season is looming and Texas public health officials are preparing for the possibility of the Zika virus infecting the state’s mosquito population. Following missteps during the Ebola crisis in Dallas less than two years ago, officials say they are applying what they learned during that ordeal to a new infectious disease threat.


Texas Tribune

Pretty much everyone on Medicaid here in Texas receives care through a Medicaid Managed Care Program. It’s a big program serving the state’s most vulnerable populations, but there are some big problems. Mostly, there aren’t enough doctors taking part in the program to help serve these populations, and state lawmakers are trying to address that. 


Allison Shelley via Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court is blocking a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Friday’s decision came just days after the court heard oral arguments regarding a similar Texas law. And the ruling points to the larger ramifications of an expected ruling on the Texas case before the court.

Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT News

Texas’ March 1 primary was the first time the state’s controversial voter ID law was in place during a presidential nominating contest.


Pu Ying-Huang/KUT News

The University of Texas is preparing to search for a new Dean for its Architecture School. Outgoing Dean Fritz Steiner recently announced he was leaving his post ahead of a new statewide law allowing permitted gun owners to carry a concealed handgun on campus.  

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