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

An examination table at a clinic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The percentage of minors unable to get a judge's approval for an abortion in Texas has fluctuated in the past two decades, according to a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Public health officials confirmed Thursday morning the first case of rubella in Travis County since 1999. The confirmation comes roughly a month after the first diagnosis of measles, which was last seen in the Austin area in 1999, too.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Nationwide, 32 children have died of flu this season, including eight in Texas. The figure is up from 16 last year – a jump that may be partially due to the strain of virus.

A billboard on Interstate 20 outside of Waskom displays an anti-abortion message.
Ben Fenton / The Texas Tribune

Three Texas towns recently voted in favor of anti-abortion ordinances, extending the reach of a campaign to create “sanctuary cities for the unborn” across the state.

A Planned Parenthood sign.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have been told they can no longer receive charitable donations directly from state employee paychecks.

Tinslee Lewis in the hospital
Courtesy of Texas Right to Life

A judge ruled in favor of allowing a Fort Worth hospital to remove an infant from life support on Thursday, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The move is at odds with the wishes of the 11-month-old baby's family, which has spent recent months fighting Cook Children's Medical Center over ending care for Tinslee Lewis.

Damien Temperley instructs students lying on mats on how to do ab exercises.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Texans are below the national average when it comes to how often they exercise, according to a new study by FitRated.

The study found only 68% of people in the state exercised regularly in the last month, which is 5 percentage points lower than the national average. Texas also has just 5.5 gyms per 100,000 people, the third-lowest in the nation. This goes along with a 33% obesity rate. 

Thomas Williams-Platt in the backyard of his aunt's home in Georgetown.
Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune

Before entering the halls of Channing School high atop the Texas Panhandle last year, students were required to roll up their shirt sleeves to show they weren’t sneaking in e-cigarettes.

Commentary: To Solve The Hidden Epidemic Of Teen Hunger, Listen To Those Who Experience It

Dec 26, 2019
Photos of food, including Cheerios, fried chicken, barbecue and water bottles.
Courtesy Stephanie Clintonia Boddie

For many young people, the toughest choice they will ever have to make about food is what to eat at home or what to choose from a menu.

But for Texas high schoolers Tamiya, Juliana, Trisha, Cara and Kristen, the choices they have to make about food are more difficult. For them, the conversation is less about food and more about how to put food on the table.

An examing room
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Public health officials say the first case of measles in Austin in more than 20 years was contracted by a person who is now in Virginia.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health says a person in Travis County has been diagnosed with measles for the first time since 1999.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the Affordable Care Act's mandate requiring people to have health insurance is unconstitutional.

An examining room at The Source clinic in Austin
Julia Reihs / KUT

A chain of crisis pregnancy centers is shifting its strategy to focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place by offering contraception services in cities across Texas.

Ambulances
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Texas Medical Board will no longer be writing the rules for a new law outlawing surprise medical bills for some Texans. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

During a meeting Friday morning, the board decided to relinquish its rulemaking authority after consumer advocates accused it of undermining the law.

Texas Capitol
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas’ bipartisan effort to shield patients from surprise medical bills could be weaker than lawmakers intended when it takes effect Jan. 1.

A woman gets a flu shot
Mary Mathis / KUT

The Austin area has been seeing an increase in the number of flu cases in recent weeks.

"Between the first week of October and the first week of November, we've seen about a 500% increase in positive tests for flu," Dr. Mark Escott, medical director for Austin Public Health, said.

Jan Lance and Rene Lara walk down a street in Southeast Austin
Julia Reihs / KUT

A group of about 20 people gathered in Southeast Austin on a chilly Saturday morning to knock on doors in nearby neighborhoods. The #SickOfItTX event was one of seven across the state aimed at organizing Texans around the state's uninsured rate, which is the highest in the country.  

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas saw a significant increase in the number of uninsured children in a two-year period, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A ruling on a Texas-led lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act is imminent. The suit is a Republican-backed effort to eliminate the entire law after Congress failed to do so in 2017.

Martin do Nascimento for KUT

Texans can start buying health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act later this week. Open enrollment for the online marketplace, healthcare.gov, starts Friday Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15 this year.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

In meeting halls, rallies and living rooms across America, "Medicare for all" is an applause line. It is a cornerstone of Senator Sanders’ campaign and one of Senator Warren’s best known plans. Earlier this week, the Urban Institute, a center-left think tank, released a report finding that "Medicare for all" would increase federal spending over the next decade by $34 trillion.

An emergency room entrance at St. David's Hospital in Austin.
Spencer Selvidge / KUT

This is the second part of a three-part series diving deep into the heart of the debate dividing Democrats in their efforts to fix the U.S. health care system. It was reported by the team at Tradeoffs, a new podcast exploring America’s confusing, costly and often counterintuitive health care system.

Last night’s Democratic debate saw Senators Sanders and Warren pushing once again for “Medicare for all,” and Vice-President Biden and Mayor Buttigieg continuing to back a so-called public option.

Up until now, it’s been tough to compare the two plans.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Central Texas has seen 10 fatal child drownings so far this year, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services — a notable increase when compared to two in 2018 and four in 2017. 

A decision in the latest court case to threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act could come as soon as this month. The ruling will come from the panel of judges in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar lawsuit.

An estimated 24 million people get their health coverage through programs created under the law, which has faced countless court challenges since it passed.

Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas
Paul Arps via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Fredericksburg residents will be asked to weigh in on a city charter amendment banning the city from adding fluoride to the public water system.

Director Michael Rubin tends to cannabis plants at Compassionate Cultivation
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

A week into opening the application process for medical cannabis dispensaries to apply for permits in Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety — without warning — suspended the process.

A woman gets a flu shot
Mary Mathis / NPR

Flu vaccination prevents millions of flu-related illnesses and deaths annually, but vaccination rates are low for many reasons.

During the 2018-2019 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 45% of U.S. adults received the flu vaccine. While this is an increase of 8% from 2017-2018, it falls way below the national goal of 70% of American adults receiving a flu shot.

Julia Reihs / KUT

There are vast differences when it comes to life expectancies between neighborhoods in Austin, according to new research from the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Shelves lined with vape juice a
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media

Fifty-one people in Texas have developed symptoms of severe lung illness after vaping, according to data posted Friday by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

An ambulance in front of a hospital entrance.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT

Nearly 1 in 3 Texans in neighborhoods of color have medical debt, according to a new study from the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.

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