Veronica Zaragovia

State Reporter

Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has contributed reporting to NPR, PRI's The World, Here & Now and Latino USA, the Agence France Presse, TIME in Hong Kong and PBS NewsHour, among others. She has two degrees from Columbia University, and has dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee. 

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Health Care
9:16 am
Fri November 21, 2014

New Wellness Center Helps Fill Health Care Void in Dove Springs

Central Health has opened the Southeast Health and Wellness Center in the Dove Springs neighborhood, traditionally an underserved community.
Courtesy of El Mundo Newspaper

On Saturday, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, State Sen. Kirk Watson and a number of community leaders will gather at a new southeast Austin health center that’s been years in the making.

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Border & Immigration
6:45 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Dewhurst Says More DPS Officers Will Patrol Border as National Guard Goes Home

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said at a Nov. 19, 2014 Capitol press conference that the Texas National Guard will leave the Texas-Mexico border by next March or April.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says President Barack Obama's expected announcement tonight on immigration policy will do nothing more than encourage more people to try and come into Texas illegally. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst says that's why he supports boosting the number of law enforcement officers along the Texas-Mexico border.

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Affordable Care Act
7:26 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Health Policy Experts Explain the Affordable Care Act's Impact in Texas

L-R: Tim Eaton, Prof. Sam Richardson, Bee Moorhead and Rep. John Zerwas discussed the Affordable Care Act at KUT on Nov. 18, 2014.
Ben Philpott/KUT

A few days after the start of the second enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, a discussion took place at KUT on the health care law's implementation in Texas. Topics included what lawmakers considered in the 2013 legislative session to get the 1.5 million Texans who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap insured, how premiums shifted for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace in Texas, the people who make up Texas' high rate of the uninsured and what the chances are the 84th Legislature will take up this discussion in January.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:58 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Gay Marriage Campaign in Texas Points to Republicans for Support

Texas for Marriage is a new campaign from Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas that promotes support for same-sex marriage in Texas.
Texas for Marriage

Gay-rights advocacy organizations Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas are teaming up to build support for same sex marriage in Texas.

Their campaign is called Texas for Marriage. It’s a grassroots effort to get volunteers in Texas spreading support for same-sex marriage – including Republicans.

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Affordable Care Act
7:10 am
Tue November 18, 2014

As ACA Sign-Ups Begin, Here’s a Look At What All That Insurance Jargon Means

Enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act lasts until Feb. 15, 2014. People have three months to learn the health insurance jargon they need to know.
healthcare.gov

Enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is underway. If you’ve ever shopped for insurance, or had insurance, you know this involves lots of technical terms that might be confusing.

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Affordable Care Act
7:57 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Things to Know as Obamacare Enrollment Begins Again

Adrian Zeh, right, helps a health insurance consumer at the Foundation Communities center inside Austin's Highland Mall on Nov. 14, 2014.
KUT News

The first day of a new open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is Nov. 15 and lasts three months, through Feb. 15.

This time around, Central Texas consumers have 115 plans to choose from, up from 80 last period, and nine insurance companies are participating in this rating area. Rating areas are usually based on counties.

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Women's Health
5:00 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Texas Launches Women's Health Website for Low-Income Care Consumers

The new state-run Healthy Texas Women website is aimed at helping low-income women find health services after many clinics have closed across the state.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

More than 20 women’s health clinics in Texas have closed since a new abortion law went into effect last year, but a new website is aimed at helping low-income women find health services.

The services include cancer screenings, access to birth control and help to stop smoking. Texas lawmakers say they’re available largely because of $113 million in state funding set aside in 2013, and they’re also funded by Medicaid dollars.

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2014 Elections
7:04 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Abbott Picks Hispanic Republican as His First Nomination as Governor-Elect

Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott introduced his pick for secretary of state, Judge Carlos Cascos of Cameron County, at the Capitol on Nov. 11, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Governor-elect Greg Abbott says he has a plan to unite Texas, and it includes whom he appoints to key state offices.

In fact, Abbott began reaching out to minority groups as part of his landslide election victory. He says he’ll continue those efforts to communicate with minorities as governor.

He says he recently attended a Texas Legislative Black Caucus meeting, and he’s picked a Hispanic to be the next secretary of state, pending senate confirmation -- Judge Carlos Cascos of the Rio Grande Valley.

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Veterans Day
6:11 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Austin Senior Day Center Honors Veterans With Visit From ROTC Cadets

Veteran Nicholas Valdez served as an infantryman in the Army during the Korean War. He was honored on Nov. 11, 2014 at AGE of Central Texas in Austin.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

In Texas and across the country today, military veterans are being honored for their service. Here in Austin, some senior vets got a visit from University of Texas Air Force cadets at AGE of Central Texas, a non-residential adult day center.

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Affordable Care Act
10:46 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Texas Obamacare Plans Cost More in Big Cities Than in Rural Areas

A new report suggests that Texas residents in big cities will pay slightly more than those in more rural areas for health insurance plans on the federal marketplace.
healthcare.gov

Open enrollment for health insurance on the federal marketplace begins on Saturday. A new report suggests that if they buy a plan through the marketplace, Texas residents in big cities will pay slightly more than those in more rural areas.

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Affordable Care Act
5:11 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Texans Urged to Update Income Information on Obamacare Website

A certified application counselor helps a health insurance consumer at Insure Central Texas in Austin's Highland Mall on Nov. 10, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Starting next week, people can once again start enrolling for health insurance on the federal marketplace. Consumers should expect a number of differences when they go on healthcare.gov this time.

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Texas Elections 2014
1:51 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Battleground Texas Has to Sell Its Pricey Goal to Big Donors Again

Texas Republicans expanded their margin of victory in this week’s elections, despite the money, volunteers and strategizing of Battleground Texas.
Photo by clockwerks http://www.flickr.com/photos/clockwerks/

The group Battleground Texas was begun with the idea that Texas is a state that can turn blue, but despite the money, volunteers and strategizing, Republicans expanded their margin of victory in this week’s elections.

Battleground Texas never promised a blue state by 2014, however, so there’s still a chance the group can keep its thousands of volunteers motivated.

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Texas Elections 2014
7:25 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Democratic Share of Latino Vote Shrinks in Texas

According to research firm Latino Decisions, Wendy Davis won 68 percent of the Latino vote and Greg Abbott got 32 percent.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

With Election Day in the rear-view mirror, we’re getting a look at research into what voters had to say. Political opinion research firm Latino Decisions surveyed 4,200 likely Latino voters in 10 states in its 2014 Election Eve poll.

In Texas, it found immigration is the most important issue facing Latino voters, followed by jobs and the economy and health care came in last.

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Ebola
4:53 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Texas' Low Spending on Public Health Gets More Attention After Ebola Cases

Texas ranks 33rd in the nation for its public health spending, at $19.31 per capita in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
KUT News

Texas has been criticized lately for the amount the state spends on public health, which includes things like vaccination programs, programs aimed at reducing obesity, tobacco use and diseases like asthma, HIV and diabetes.

Public health also includes tracking and containing disease outbreaks, which is getting more attention since Texas had the first Ebola case in the U.S.

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Ebola
5:30 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Nurse Who Treated Ebola Patients Agrees to Self-Quarantine in Texas

An unidentified nurse has returned to Texas from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Oct. 29, 2014.
Image courtesy Dave Wilson http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawilson/

An unidentified nurse has returned to Texas from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport this morning.

The nurse has no symptoms of the disease, but has agreed to a request from Gov. Rick Perry to self-quarantine at home for 21 days. In a statement, Gov. Perry called her a "health care hero" and said the state will check in on her twice a day, but she was not forced to quarantine.

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Criminal Justice
10:38 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Texas Criminal Justice Spending Driven Largely by Elderly Inmates

Members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee expect to discuss ways to reduce spending, at the 2015 legislative session, on geriatric inmates, like medically recommended parole.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Because Texas spends millions of dollars a year on geriatric prison inmates to treat chronic health conditions, lawmakers are discussing options to change this.

Next session, members of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee expect to discuss geriatric parole, also known as medically recommended parole, which would allow some elderly inmates to finish out their sentence outside the prison system. 

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Ebola
9:05 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Texas' Infectious Disease Task Force Listens to Experts on Viruses like Ebola

The Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease listened to testimony yesterday from experts in the state who know how viruses like Ebola could be handled in Texas.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The newly formed Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease listened to hours of testimony yesterday from experts in the state who know how viruses like Ebola could be handled in Texas.

In fact, that hearing has already yielded many lessons.

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Ebola
5:29 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Health Workers in U.S. at Risk for Ebola Should Be on No-Fly List, Perry Says

Gov. Rick Perry speaks at a press conference about Ebola at the Capitol on Oct. 17, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling it "indefensible" that one of the nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and died last week, would be cleared to fly from Ohio to Dallas. She had told health officials she had a low fever before being cleared to fly. 

Gov. Perry is also joining fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz in pressing for a travel ban to and from the West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus, exempting people like health care workers. 

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Affordable Care Act
9:07 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Obamacare Coverage Expansion in Texas Prompts Alternative Health Care Models

Walmart recently opened a Care Clinic in Copperas Cove, Texas, near the Fort Hood military base.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Although the Affordable Care Act has led to thousands of people in Texas getting insurance for the first time, many consumers aren’t turning to care at a doctor’s office.

Instead they’re turning to places that are convenient -- places like Walmart.

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Ebola
7:18 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Officials in Austin Discuss Ramped Up Efforts to Prepare for Any Local Ebola Case

Dr. Philip Huang, medical director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, spoke at a press conference on Ebola on Oct. 16, 2014.
KUT News

Austin officials say they’re ready for any potential local cases of the Ebola virus.

Starting this week, when someone in Austin and Travis County calls 911 for medical help, an operator will ask more questions than usual about symptoms and travel history so that emergency responders can be prepared.

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