Ashley Lopez

Ways to Connect

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Mosquito season is upon us, and Texas still isn’t out of the woods when it comes to Zika.

The mosquito-borne illness can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to it while pregnant. Last year, there were 312 cases of Zika reported in the state.

Sanofi Pasteur

A mumps outbreak in Texas has reached a 20-year high. Public health officials have identified 221 cases of the highly contagious disease so far this year, and it’s not because vaccination rates are dipping in Texas.

Texas Legislative Council

Months ago, new Texas congressional maps for the 2018 election seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea. The federal court looking at a lawsuit against the state’s 2011 map had sat on a ruling for years, and the case had gone unresolved for several election cycles.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr.

A statewide task force ran into some issues getting good information last year when it was asked to write a report on why so many women in Texas were dying during pregnancy or shortly after.

In fact, these issues were a big part of the report it finally released to lawmakers. Now, state lawmakers are looking at ways to fix the problems.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

It used to take more than a year for low-income people in Travis County to get in to see an orthopedic, or skeletal, specialist. However, thanks to a new approach and a clinic run by Dell Medical School at UT Austin, that wait time is now about three weeks.

The reason for this is a team of half a dozen doctors, nurse practitioners and research assistants.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Victoria Tisor is a healthy 60-year-old who lives in Austin and doesn’t have health insurance.

Tisor scheduled a routine colonoscopy many months ago and waited six months for an appointment. A week before the appointment, she got a call from the doctor’s office wanting to know who her insurance provider was.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Central Health’s board is choosing a new CEO in the coming days. There are two finalists to replace Patricia Young Brown, who stepped down late last year.

In case you aren’t entirely sure what Central Health does or why you should care, here’s a primer:

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

In less than two months, Austin will have a $310 million teaching hospital on UT Austin’s medical campus.

The hospital is part of a long-term deal struck between the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Central Health, Seton and Travis County voters in 2012. The agreement led to a tax increase to pay for a medical school and set aside land for a new hospital.

Photo Illustration by Todd Wiseman

After the failure of the GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, there’s a new political landscape, and states across the country with Republican-led legislatures are weighing their options when it comes to Medicaid expansion. 

Conservative states – most recently Kansas — see an opening to extend health care to more low-income adults. But it’s unclear whether Texas – a state that has more uninsured people than any other state in the country – is willing to hop on the bandwagon.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

For more than a year now, health officials have been trying to improve access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as IUDs, for women who want them. But there have been some pretty big hurdles, particularly at hospitals in Texas.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This summer, it will be a year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a strict abortion law in Texas. Half of the state’s abortion providers closed after the 2013 law, known as House Bill 2, went into effect.

Stephanie Tacy for KUT

The federal refugee resettlement program has faced a lot of uncertainties in the past several weeks, and folks who work with refugees here in Austin say it’s making their work more complicated than usual.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

More than 1.2 million Texans are signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. That’s the part of Obamacare that allows companies to sell plans directly to individuals. Under the GOP replacement bill working its way through Congress, there could be big changes to how the government helps these individuals pay for their plans.


ILLUSTRATION BY ANNEKE PATERSON / TODD WISEMAN

Exactly one week ago, a federal court struck down congressional maps drawn by Texas lawmakers in 2011.

The court sided with plaintiffs in the case who said lawmakers racially gerrymandered the districts. Among the court's concerns was an Austin district.

Beth Cortez-Neavel/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Medicaid in Texas is facing possible cuts from both the state and federal governments.

According to health care advocates, the Texas Senate is proposing a budget that underfunds Medicaid by at least $1.9 billion.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Hundreds of people testified at the state Capitol on Tuesday about the so-called “bathroom bill.”

Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public spaces that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. It passed out of the Senate Committee on State Affairs hearing, which lasted more than 20 hours, on a vote of 7-1 and will now go to the full Senate for a vote. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Between 16,000 and 17,000 Texans who said they had trouble getting a voter ID were able to sign an affidavit and vote in the last presidential election, thanks to a court order. Now lawmakers want to make it a felony if a voter signing such a form “knowingly makes a false statement or provides false information.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Texas health officials cannot kick Planned Parenthood out of the state's Medicaid program.

Qiling Wang for KUT

During trips to their districts this week, Republican congressmen representing the Austin area will not be holding town halls, even though many constituents have been asking for them.

That hasn’t stopped groups from holding town halls of their own – even if the member of Congress they want to talk to isn’t there.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The federal health insurance marketplace has been a big help to startups in Austin in the past few years. It's giving tech workers the ability to buy health insurance when their fledgling employers are too small to provide benefits.

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