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

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 5 million Texans didn’t have health insurance in 2018, according to figures released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. The year before, about 4.8 million Texans lacked coverage.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

The local health care district Central Health is asking for input from the public on how to spend $290.8 million next year to help people with low incomes access health care in Travis County. The next opportunity to share your ideas with Central Health's Board of Mangers is Sept. 11.

Vaping360.com/Flickr

The unregulated marketing of e-cigarettes is increasing the number of young people who vape, according to a new study from researchers at UT Austin. 

The International High School in East Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Large and small cities in Texas are becoming increasingly vulnerable to measles outbreaks as more parents exempt their children from required vaccinations, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

Four Austin City Council members want the city to help low-income women obtain abortions – without the city actually paying for the procedure.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Public support for legal access to abortions has been relatively stable across the country in the last five years, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Trump administration is closer to banning some low-income, legal immigrants who are relying on public services like food stamps from legally entering the United States.

Amy Temperley
Julia Reihs / KUT

Becky Rhodes logged onto Facebook a couple years ago and saw a friend's post asking for help with a new project that would offer exercise and education classes for older adults. 

"Sign me up!" said the then-68-year-old retiree.

St. Martin De Porres Catholic Church
Julia Reihs / KUT

At the dedication of the St. Dymphna Center at the St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Dripping Springs last February, Father Charlie Garza told parishioners the story of Christopher Rosilier, who had “set the tone” for the previous five years of his pastoral work.

Migrants under a bridge
Lynda M. González for KUT

Almost 40 child welfare and medical groups in Texas sent a letter to federal and state leaders Thursday expressing concern about the treatment of child migrants on the state’s southern border. They say poor living conditions are causing trauma among these children, which could have lasting effects.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met with other health care leaders in Austin on Tuesday to discuss the need for "disruptive" strategies to address the growing number of HIV infections in Central Texas.

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals building
Jolie McCullough / The Texas Tribune

NEW ORLEANS — On the left was Judge Carolyn Dineen King, an appointee of Jimmy Carter; on the right sat Judge Kurt Engelhardt, a nominee of Donald Trump, and in the center sat Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, the George W. Bush appointee expected to represent the critical swing vote on a three-judge panel now charged with deciding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

The fate of the Affordable Care Act is again on the line Tuesday, as a federal appeals court in New Orleans takes up a case in which a lower court judge has already ruled the massive health law unconstitutional.

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