Veronica Zaragovia

State reporter

Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT News, and gets to team up with an extraordinary group of KUT journalists on how legislation affects the people of Texas. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has worked as a freelancer and intern with  the Agence France Presse, TIME, WDET Detroit public radio and PBS NewsHour, among others. She's dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee. 

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Aging in Texas
8:17 am
Mon March 3, 2014

How 'Golden Girls' Models the Future Of Senior Housing in Central Texas

From Miami to Austin: As the number of seniors living in Central Texas rises along with the cost of living, "The Golden Girls" is becoming a template for senior housing.

The number of seniors living in Central Texas is soaring – and so is the cost of living.

That’s making “The Golden Girls” far more than a funny '80s TV show. The show's shared-living arrangement could become a template for senior housing in cities like Austin.

Helene Frager says she dreamt she would live like Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy and Rose by now. "I always had this fear of growing old and alone. When I used to watch the program, 'The Golden Girls,' I said, ‘Hey, they’re not too bad! They have companionship, they have each other, they can talk about things," she says. 

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Texas
10:36 am
Thu February 27, 2014

What's Next For Texas After Same-Sex Marriage Ruling?

Texas officials are appealing a decision by a federal judge who ruled Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, and state laws barring recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, are unconstitutional.
flickr.com/weho

Now that a federal judge has found Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the state is appealing the ruling to a higher court. 

So what does this mean for the plaintiffs and the state?

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote that even though states can regulate marriage, "Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process."

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Women's Health
7:34 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Stance On Texas Women's Health Program Depends On Party Affiliation

Abortion-rights activists took part in an event with Democratic lawmakers at the Texas State Capitol on Feb. 20, 2014.
Sam Ortega, KUT

Women's healthcare has been a political seesaw in the Texas legislature the last few years -- from budget cuts in 2011 to budget increases in 2013.

Yesterday a Texas Senate committee heard how women's health programs were doing, with the answer falling along party lines.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, says Texas has never spent as much on women’s health as it does right now, and she says she wanted to "set the record straight" during a hearing of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee -- the committee she chairs.

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Affordable Care Act
4:50 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Even Texans With Health Insurance Struggle to Afford It, Study Suggests

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S. The Health Reform Monitoring Survey-Texas report says even some people with health insurance are struggling to pay for it.
healthcare.gov

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, about one in four, and a new survey, the Health Reform Monitoring Survey-Texas report, suggests even some people with health insurance are struggling to pay for it.  

The report looked at how Texans were feeling in September about health care and insurance just before the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace launched. Vivian Ho, an economist with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, helped produce the report. She says they're trying to measure the impact of the health care law in Texas.

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Abortion
8:50 am
Wed February 19, 2014

What It Takes For Texas Abortion Doctors To Get Admitting Privileges

Texas abortion doctors must receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. The process is lengthy and complex.
Spencer Selvidge, KUT News

Houston doctor Theodore Herring Jr. had his license temporarily suspended last week, after he was found to have violated a new state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

That provision is among the ones under review by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While the law is tied up in that court, abortion doctors in Texas are still required to follow it – meaning they need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

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Abortion
5:10 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Texas Medical Board Suspends Abortion Doctor's License

Janet Crepps, center, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued against the admitting privileges provision of House Bill 2 at a federal district court in Austin in 2013 and at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A Texas doctor is without his medical license for violating a part of the state’s new abortion law. 

The Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended the license on Feb. 13 of Dr. Theodore Herring, Jr. He performed almost 270 abortions between last November and earlier February without having the required hospital admitting privileges.

It’s the first time that a Texas doctor has faced license suspension since most of the state’s abortion law's provisions went into effect in October. The law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

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Aging in Texas
9:10 am
Fri February 14, 2014

In Texas, Elderly Population Gets Help from Increasingly Older Caregivers

Henrietta City, left, helps Betty Finn at her apartment in Austin on Feb. 12, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

As older Americans make up a greater percentage of the population, more of them are finding themselves in need of home care workers.

That workforce is aging as well, and Texas is no exception. 

Take Henrietta City. She's in her early 60s and she helps Betty Finn in her early 80s every week. On a recent afternoon that meant trying to hang a clock on a wall of Finn’s apartment, but the work takes a lot of different forms. 

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Same-Sex Marriage
8:35 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters in Texas Await Federal Judge's Decision

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia is slated to rule soon on a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban of same-sex marriages.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

A U.S. district judge is slated to rule soon on a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban of same-sex marriages. The judge heard arguments Wednesday in a federal court in San Antonio. 

The plaintiffs in the case are two same-sex couples – one lives in the Austin area and another near Dallas. They’re asking for a preliminary injunction on Texas’s law. But even if U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia,  a Clinton appointee, finds the state ban unconstitutional, plaintiffs' attorneys don’t expect that we’ll see the long lines of gay couples waiting to get married – like we did after a recent decision in Utah.

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Same-Sex Marriage
8:49 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Will Texas' Same-Sex Couples Benefit From New Federal Protections?

Cori Samilpa of Austin waves an LGBT flag as the 2013 Austin Pride Parade makes its way down Congress Avenue.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will extend federal protections to all U.S. same-sex couples married legally – regardless of where they live.

That includes couples living in Texas – which has banned such marriages. So what does this federal decision mean for the state?

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Affordable Care Act
7:44 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Refugees in Texas Face Hurdles Signing Up for Obamacare Plans

Pastor John Monger, top right, worries about refugees understanding the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

This story is a result of a partnership with the Austin-American Statesman’s Tim Eaton and Kelly West. You can find more at Statesman.com.

By the end of March,  all people in the U.S. legally must have health insurance – or pay a tax penalty next year. That includes refugees, who often lack the English skills to understand the ins and outs of the insurance system.

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Tejano Trails
6:33 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Could East Austin's Tejano Trails Keep Gentrification at Bay?

A cyclist passes El Buen Pastor Early Childhood Development Center on the Tejano Healthy Walking Trail in East Austin.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez, KUT

The Tejano Trails in East Austin are meant to highlight landmarks and legends of the area, but they’re not easy to find. Groups are now working to make the history of this neighborhood more visible under the guidance of a National Parks Service program. 

Last fall, the Scoot Inn, the oldest continuing running bar in Central Texas, made for a fitting location for an event promoting the next phase of Austin’s Tejano Trails

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Texas
11:26 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Almost Half of Texas Lacks Savings to Cover Job Loss, Medical Emergency

Volunteers sort food at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. A new report suggests almost half of Texas households aren’t financially prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.
Credit KUT News

Another national report card is out, and Texas households are still struggling to beef up their savings. 

Almost half of Texas households don’t have enough savings to pay for basic expenses for three months, which means most families aren’t prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.

According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, the state’s policies are also not helping residents achieve financial security.

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Texas
8:41 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Texas' Income Gap Widens as Minority Populations Grow

In Texas, poverty rates among Hispanics and African Americans are about 2.5 to 3 times higher than whites.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address tonight. He’s expected to make a big deal about economic mobility and reducing income inequality in the U.S.

But the challenges are substantial when it comes to narrowing the divide. Texas has the eighth highest level of income inequality,  based on 2010 Census data.

"In terms of Texas, we have a lot of upper end income inequality," says Mark Frank, an economics professor at Sam Houston State University. "We have a lot of income inequality because we have the top 1 percent or .01 percent."

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Abortion
7:06 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Is Texas' Abortion Law an Undue Burden? What's at Stake in New Rules

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional by using the undue burden test.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional.

In making that decision, judges will have to weigh those provisions using what’s known as “the undue burden test.”

For two decades, judges have been weighing the constitutionality of abortion regulations using this concept.

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Affordable Care Act
7:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

It's Official: Texas OKs Extra Rules, Training for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber listened to testimony at a public hearing on proposed rules for health insurance navigators in Austin on Dec. 20, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Texas now has extra requirements for Affordable Care Act navigators who help consumers find their way around the federally-run health insurance marketplace. 

Beginning at the end of 2013 and lasting through early January, the Texas Department of Insurance listened to public testimony and received more than 300 pages of written comments on the proposed rules.

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