Health

Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

flickr/vcucns

By early this summer anyone in Texas will be able to purchase a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. The drug, naloxone, will be available with or without a prescription at Walgreens.

Like most of the country, Texas is dealing with an uptick in overdose deaths from opioids like heroin and prescription pain killers. 


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Oklahoma officials are seriously considering expanding Medicaid in that state under the Affordable Care Act. That means all of the states surrounding Texas – including New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana – could soon have expanded Medicaid programs. During a meeting at the Capitol yesterday, advocates said it’s an opportunity for Texas officials to revisit this issue back home.


Saying they now have new information that significantly changes the case before them, the Supreme Court justices sidestepped a constitutional decision on the latest Obamacare challenge and sent the government and the religious organizations back to the drawing board.

In a unanimous decision, the court said it was not deciding the central question in the case: whether Obamacare's contraceptive mandate substantially burdens some organizations' right to exercise their religion.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Now that Texas knows it will receive a Medicaid waiver for uncompensated care, state lawmakers are no longer on a tight deadline for figuring out what to do about its large uninsured population.

The federal government will continue to give the state billions of dollars to reimburse Texas hospitals to pay for care provided to people without insurance. But the deal only pushed the deadline back a year to December 2017, and advocates hope lawmakers will use that time to debate Medicaid expansion.


Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The Obama administration has agreed to temporarily keep some federal Medicaid money flowing into Texas to help hospitals treat uninsured patients, a relief to health care providers that feared losing the funds over state leaders' refusal to provide health insurance to low-income adults. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Last year a series of secretly taped and heavily edited videos were released showing Planned Parenthood officials appearing to discuss the sale of fetal tissue harvested from abortions. Those videos have since been discredited, but that hasn't stopped Republican leaders in the Texas Legislature from calling a series of hearings to review the state's rules for the use of fetal tissue. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Pregnant women are among the large number of people who are part of Texas' large uninsured population. For some women, that means they won’t see a doctor until late in their pregnancy. That’s why Dell Medical School at UT Austin – in partnership with a group of community health clinics – has launched a project aimed at changing the way women in Travis County get prenatal care.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

It’s only been about three weeks since the Federal Drug Administration changed the label for the country’s most widely used abortion drug, mifepristone. In Texas, advocates expected this would be a big deal, because Texas law mandates physicians administer the drug exactly like it says on the label—even though those methods weren’t common medical practice.


Chan Lone/Texas Tribune

There are fewer children in Texas without health insurance these days, but the state still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country. And according to a new study, certain races and ethnicities in the state are more likely than others to be uninsured.


via Texas Tribune

State government has been slow to respond to a rise in opioid deaths in Texas. But, with an ongoing epidemic in the state, university students have taken things into their own hands. Last week, they convinced the University of Texas System to change its own medical amnesty policy.


You’ve probably heard of the credentials M.D. and Ph.D. -- maybe RN or NP. How about PSc.D. or D.PSc.? Those letters signify someone practices pastoral medicine -- some call themselves doctors of pastoral medicine.

Todd Wiseman for the Texas Tribune

Hospitals around the state are in a serious time crunch. Administrators are currently drafting their budgets for the next fiscal year, but a big chunk of federal funds they’ve relied on in years past isn’t a sure thing this time around.


James Gathany/CDC

Mosquito season is looming and Texas public health officials are preparing for the possibility of the Zika virus infecting the state’s mosquito population. Following missteps during the Ebola crisis in Dallas less than two years ago, officials say they are applying what they learned during that ordeal to a new infectious disease threat.


flickr/jamesjordan

Despite two confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus Zika in Travis County, the city of Austin says it will not make any big changes to its mosquito control strategy as the warm season opens – a time ripe for insect breeding. 


Texas Tribune

Pretty much everyone on Medicaid here in Texas receives care through a Medicaid Managed Care Program. It’s a big program serving the state’s most vulnerable populations, but there are some big problems. Mostly, there aren’t enough doctors taking part in the program to help serve these populations, and state lawmakers are trying to address that. 


Todd Wiseman for the Texas Tribune

Texas’ nursing home and elder care industry got a hard look by a state health panel Thursday. Lawmakers and stakeholders discussed whether state regulators are being tough enough on nursing homes that are out of compliance with state and federal standards.

Ashley Lopez for KUT News

As in most of the country, opioid abuse is a serious problem in Texas. A growing number of people in the state are becoming addicted to and even dying from the use of heroin and prescription pain medications.

Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill aimed at curbing opioid overdoses, but some advocates say the state has been moving too slowly—especially since the problem doesn't seem to be getting any better.


A patient acquired Zika virus in the U.S. through sex with a person who had traveled to a place where the virus is circulating, Dallas County, Texas, health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

This is not the first time that the virus has been sexually transmitted, and it most likely isn't the first time it's been sexually transmitted in the U.S.

thespeakernews via flickr

Public health officials in Dallas County have confirmed the first sexually transmitted case of the Zika virus, which is said to be linked to birth defects.

The virus is typically transmitted by mosquitoes, but Dallas County Health and Human Services said Tuesday that an unidentified person had been infected by sexual transmission — the first confirmed case of a person acquiring the virus in the continental United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the transmission Tuesday.

thespeakernews via flickr

Texas has at least six confirmed cases of the Zika virus, according to state health officials.

The World Health Organization declared Monday that the "explosive" spread of the virus in the Americas should qualify as an international emergency.

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