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

Eddie Seal for The Texas Tribune

Katherine Edmundson didn’t know her 7-year-old son was off Medicaid until she took him to the dentist for his annual cleaning in February. An employee at the front desk told her that his coverage was invalid and that her son couldn’t be seen that day.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As the June deadline draws closer for Sendero Health Plans to prove its worth in the insurance market, Central Health officials gathered Monday night to update the community about the nonprofit health insurance company.

Sneezing, runny nose, congestion, or irritated eyes? Yes, we hear you: The misery of seasonal allergies is real. A lot of people find temporary relief with over-the-counter medications, but these don't treat the cause.

As we head into grass pollen season over the next few months, here's an option to consider: Many allergists now prescribe immunotherapy tablets, which work in the same way as allergy shots, to some of their patients with grass allergies.

It wasn't the rash covering Meliza's feet and legs that worried Dr. José Manuel de la Rosa. What concerned him were the deep bruises beneath. They were a sign she could be experiencing something far more serious than an allergic reaction.

Meliza's mom, Magdalena, told the doctor it started with one little bump. Then two. In no time, the 5-year-old's legs were swollen and red from the knees down.

One point drew clear agreement Tuesday during a House subcommittee hearing: When it comes to the problem of surprise medical bills, the solution must protect patients — not demand that they be great negotiators.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

In a significant shift, the Trump administration says the entirety of the Affordable Care Act should be struck down in the courts. Previously, the administration had pushed to remove the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions but had not argued in court that the whole law should be struck down.

Eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday to talk about how he decided to get vaccinated against the wishes of his mother, who is anti-vaccine.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Almost two-thirds of Texans think state lawmakers should expand Medicaid to cover more low-income uninsured people, according to a survey funded by the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced plans to address surprise medical bills in way that would take the "burden" off Texans.

Carol Marley wants everyone to know what a life-threatening cancer diagnosis looks like in America today.

Yes, it's the chemotherapy that leaves you weak and unable to walk across the room. Yes, it's the litany of tests and treatments – the CT scans and MRIs and biopsies and endoscopies and surgeries and blood draws and radiation and doctor visits. Yes, it's envisioning your funeral, which torments you day and night.

But none of these is her most gnawing, ever present concern.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population, according to Integral Care, which provides mental health care in Travis County.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Twenty child advocacy groups and nonprofits called on Texas lawmakers this week to increase funding for a struggling program that helps more than 50,000 small children with disabilities and developmental delays in the state.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin’s health department is taking precautionary steps in case the measles virus arrives in Travis County. So far, officials say, there are eight reported cases in Texas, the closest to Austin being in the Temple area.

At least 11 states have seen measles cases this winter.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Consumer advocates and health insurers are pushing Texas lawmakers to address surprise medical bills during this year’s legislative session.

Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

Olga Kauffman is tired of the politics surrounding Medicaid.

Kauffman, a San Antonio resident who works as a health specialist with Urban Strategies, a group that builds public housing and provides services to residents, says she sees families struggle every day because of lack of access to health care and insurance.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court has lifted a lower court order that blocked Texas from booting Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid, potentially imperiling the health care provider’s participation in the federal-state health insurance program.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Kevin Drapela and his wife, Cori-Beth Tuite, found themselves at a food bank Wednesday – something they never expected.

The IRS employees from Taylor were among the federal workers who attended a resource fair hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank in response to the ongoing government shutdown.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A growing number of Texans are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with surprise hospital bills. However, the program is likely only addressing a fraction of the surprise medical bills Texans receive in the mail every year. 

Shelby Knowles / The Texas Tribune

The Democratic coalition of states battling Texas over the fate of the Affordable Care Act has formally begun the process of challenging a Dec. 14 decision ruling the law unconstitutional in its entirety.

Courtesy of Andrea Hernandez

Andrea Hernandez ended up in a McAllen hospital after a drunken driver hit the car she was in.

“I basically got amnesia because of how hard I hit my head,” the 22-year-old says.

Like many families in Texas, Hernandez’s family is from Mexico. Her father speaks only Spanish, so she says it was valuable that her doctor was from Mexico and spoke Spanish, too.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The song says "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."  But for some, the holiday cannot come and go soon enough because with them come the holiday blues - that feeling of anxiety and depression that can surge at the holidays. But what about more persistent mental illness? How do we as a society handle that?

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Soon after a federal judge ruled Friday that the Affordable Care Act was invalid, Gov. Greg Abbott told The Dallas Morning News that Texas would create its own health care system if the decision is upheld.

It won't be that simple. Here are some things you should know about Abbott’s plan:

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor has a history of siding with Republicans on ideologically motivated lawsuits. His ruling last week, in which he sided with the GOP on a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, was not a one-off.

In fact, critics say, his history is ultimately why that case was before him in the first place.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 1 million Texans signed up for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended the day after a federal judge ruled the law is invalid. That's almost 40,000 fewer sign-ups than during the last enrollment period.

Rick Bowmer / AP

The Affordable Care Act faces a new legal challenge after a federal judge in Texas ruled the law unconstitutional on Friday. The decision risks throwing the nation's health care system into turmoil should it be upheld on appeal. But little will be different in the meantime.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A federal judge in Fort Worth has ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, in a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general and two Republican governors. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

An estimated 17 percent of Travis County residents under the age of 65 were uninsured in 2018, a new report finds. That's up from 15 percent last year. Seventy-one percent of those uninsured were from working families.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Race and geography are good predictors of whether a woman in Texas will have a severe complication during childbirth, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler studied public hospital records submitted to the state from 2011 to 2016 for instances of severe maternal morbidity, which are complications that could almost kill a woman who is giving birth that include heart attacks, severe bleeding, eclampsia and blood clots, among other things.

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

With less than two weeks of open enrollment left, Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities says it's reporting a noticeable decline in the number of Latinos signing up for health insurance through healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A new study suggests a proposed Trump administration policy could discourage immigrant families from enrolling their citizen children in public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.

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