Health Care

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Physician practices in Texas are facing serious financial pressures as fewer patients come in to seek care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy Anne Bennett

From Texas Standard:

For new parent Tracy Franklin Squires, her first take on motherhood echoed that of most moms, during this time of isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have an infant at home,” Franklin Squires said. “So, I’m terrified.”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Juan Pablo Segura, co-founder of Washington, D.C.,-based Babyscripts. In recent years, as high rates of maternal mortality in this country have alarmed researchers, one statistic has been especially concerning. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-American mothers in this country die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health.

Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

It might seem obvious to some that factors like housing quality, community safety and clean air matter to a person's health. A new survey from the Episcopal Health Foundation validates that idea. It shows that a majority of Texans think so-called social determinants of health are at least as important, if not more so, to their well-being than actual medical care.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Just as it was in 2016, health care is an important issue for voters as they prepare to cast ballots in primaries and in November's general election. And health care is an especially relevant topic in Texas, as the state continues to opt out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and faces rural hospital closures and high maternal mortality rates.

Bernie Sanders speaks to the audience at the She the People Presidential Forum at Texas Southern University last year.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Health care remains a top concern for voters in Texas, but they are split on whether to completely upend the country’s current health care system, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll finds.

A cart of gauze pads and other items used to treat a patient who is hemorrhaging.
Julia Reihs / KUT

An effort to make hospitals safer for women giving birth in Texas has been underway for more than a year now. Doctors and hospital administrators say Texas AIM, which was launched in the summer of 2018, has led to big shifts in how medical staff treat women facing medical complications while having a baby.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is among the leading Democratic candidates for president nationwide. In Texas, a recent poll found Biden has strong support among likely Democratic voters, though that poll also showed that a mix of registered and unregistered voters believe Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the candidate who could actually defeat President Donald Trump in November.

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.

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 Cristóver Pérez / KUT

This is the first 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.

Tonight, Democrat presidential hopefuls square off in Ohio for their fourth debate of the primary. When they get to health care, they will likely go heavy on rhetoric but light on details. As soon as tomorrow morning, though, these politicians may be drowning in data.

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.

Spencer Selvidge/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Johns Hopkins University researchers recently analyzed hospital fees nationwide and found that Texas had the country’s highest health care markup ratio. Those ratios were highest in Brownsville-Harlingen, Laredo and El Paso. A markup ratio is what a hospital charges for a service, compared to the Medicare "allowable amount" – the rate that the federal government determines a service is worth.

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.

Cockrell School of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Researchers at UT Austin have designed a device that can measure both the electrical and mechanical pulses of the heart using a sensor so thin and stretchable they're calling it an "electronic tattoo."

Wendy Rigby/Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

In this installment of our "Spotlight on Health" series, we're looking at access to health care – something that can be a problem for many military veterans. 

Robert Wilkie, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, says wait times at VA clinics have shown "marked improvement" since 2014 when the agency was embroiled in controversy. In one example from that time, a Phoenix VA facility was criticized for having extremely long wait times. 

Spinal surgery made it possible for Liv Cannon to plant her first vegetable garden.

"It's a lot of bending over and lifting the wheelbarrow and putting stakes in the ground," the 26-year-old says as she surveys the tomatillos, cherry tomatoes and eggplants growing in raised beds behind her house in Austin, Texas. "And none of that I could ever do before."

For the first 24 years of her life, Cannon's activities were limited by chronic pain and muscle weakness.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

When lawmakers ended this year’s legislative session, they had addressed their biggest goals: They tamped down property taxes, overhauled school finance laws and gave teachers a pay raise. By various measures, the session was a success.

To health care advocates in the state, however, it was a missed opportunity.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Free-standing emergency rooms have not reduced hospital ER visits or wait times in Texas' major metropolitan areas, according to a new study from Rice University.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

A surprise medical bill may be a thing of the past for many Texans. In a unanimous vote, the Texas House approved a Senate bill banning health care providers from sending steep medical bills to insured Texans in emergencies.

Margaret Nicklas/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

With Tax Day just five days away, on April 15, some may be scrambling to make a payment, or just trying to get all the right forms filled out. While tax season can be stressful for many, it doesn’t affect most people's health. But it can, for families living in poverty.

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.

Andi Lichterfelde/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. population is aging, and many older adults have, or will have, some form of dementia. Right now, the health care workforce is not prepared to meet their needs, says sociologist Christopher Johnson. But Johnson is particularly poised to help fix the problem, as professor at the country's first master's of science program in dementia and aging studies, at Texas State University in San Marcos.

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.

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

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. 

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.

The federal judge in Texas who ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional earlier this month said that the law can remain in effect while under appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor wrote in his ruling filed on Sunday that "many everyday Americans would otherwise face great uncertainty during the pendency of appeal."

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