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. 

Ways To Connect

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is a provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied insurance coverage, including people who are HIV positive.

Still, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t solved everything for HIV patients.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Update:

A version of the story below by KUT's Veronica Zaragovia aired on WBUR's Here & Now. Listen to the story here.

Original story:

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.

Pages