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

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Summer is often a time to sit back, relax, and lather on the sunscreen. But those with elderly family members might want to think twice before letting their summer routines go lax. 

Senior Helpers, an in-home care service for the elderly, recently released a “Senior Lost and Found Plan” to combat the increase in senior disappearances. 

“Nationwide, there’s an uptake in senior disappearances,” said Frank Hayes with the Austin-area Senior Helpers. Hayes attributes the increase in senior population at a national level with the rising rate of missing elderly. 

The Capital Area Council of Governments recently released a survey showing that the aging population in Central Texas will nearly double in the next two decades. The survey projects that the number of Austinites over the age of 65 will double to make up nearly 20 percent of the population by 2040. 

Todd Wiseman / Kjetil Ree for Texas Tribune

Texas will not expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, two major tenets of the federal health reform that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last month, Gov. Rick Perry said in an early morning announcement.

KUT News

A new report says Texas is dead last compared to other states when it comes to the overall quality of health care.

The report was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Home health care was the worst performing category in Texas, earning the lowest possible rating in terms of quality. The report also showed declines in diabetes care, nursing homes and treating chronic diseases.

“Because we’re comparing to other states and not some fantasy world, we know it is possible, we know other states are achieving higher performance levels," says Ernest Moy with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "And so I don’t think there’s necessarily a reason to think that Texas can’t also achieve that higher level of performance.”

Caleb Miller Bryant, Texas Tribune

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is launching a new Medicaid initiative to help prevent premature births.

The program was launched this week and provides a 24-hour help line and other resources to help mothers carry their babies to term.

Medicaid pays for more than half of the births in Texas. HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman told The Texas Tribune that premature births are especially expensive.

“One of those babies is more than 18 times the cost of a regular newborn,” said Goodman. “If we can reduce that, we can save a lot of money.”

House the Homeless

In the aftermath of a recent tragedy, the push to create a shelter for homeless women is gaining momentum.

On June 15, Valerie Godoy was murdered and her body left at Duncan Park on Ninth Street in downtown Austin. (Police are still looking for her assailant.) Local advocacy organization House the Homeless says the murder is a wake-up call to Austin.

A life on the streets leaves all homeless susceptible to crime and attacks. But noting the dangers unique to female members of the homeless population, House the Homeless is calling for the creation of a women’s homeless shelter – the Valerie Godoy Women’s Shelter.

KUT News

Twenty-eight percent of high school students have sent naked pictures of themselves through email or text, according to a study led by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

The researchers also found that teens who sexted were more likely to have had sex than those who did not send out nude photos of themselves.

A few dozen people rallied in front of the Capitol yesterday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling upholding most of the Affordable Care Act. We sent our University of Porto interns, Filipa Rodrigues and Mario Jacinto, to produce this video showing us what it looked like. 

The Supreme Court ruled today that the 2010 Affordable Care Act is constitutional — giving the Obama administration a big election year win over conservative critics who argue that the health care overhaul is a step on the way toward socialized medicine.

Health Care Law Upheld: Now What?

Jun 28, 2012

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that the Affordable Care Act can stand, it's time to think about what the law actually means for your medical coverage. The requirement that everyone buy health insurance (the individual mandate) has gotten all the attention, but there's a lot more to the health law. So let's review the changes the law has already wrought and those that still lie ahead:

WHAT'S IN EFFECT:

MarketWatch calls this CNN and Fox's 'Dewey Defeats Truman' moment. For several surprising minutes this morning, both media companies wrongly announced that the Affordable Care Act had been overturned by the Supreme Court.

flickr.com/brendel

Lone star politicians are wasting no time sounding off on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision this morning upholding the individual mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature package of health care reforms.

Governor Rick Perry calls the opinion “a stomach punch to the American economy.”  

“Freedom was frontally attacked by passage of this monstrosity,” Perry says, “and the Court utterly failed in its duty to uphold the Constitutional limits placed on Washington. Now that the Supreme Court has abandoned us, we citizens must take action at every level of government and demand real reform, done with respect for our Constitution and our liberty.”

Todd Wiseman / Eddie Codel, Texas Tribune

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care legislation, is constitutional — including the individual mandate that forces Americans to carry health insurance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The decision has far-reaching implications for Texas, where leaders have ardently opposed “Obamacare” even though the state has the country’s highest percent of uninsured residents. In addition to requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance, the law dramatically expands Medicaid, which already makes up close to a quarter of Texas’ state budget.

SCOTUS Health Care Ruling Today?

Jun 28, 2012

Excuse us if we sound like a broken record, but the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Affordable Care Act today. NPR's health blog Shots has a quick primer on the issues at stake in the decision.

Several dozen people know how the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law. And it'll stay that way until sometime after 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, when the court releases its opinion to the rest of us.

The decision will have broad societal, economic and legal ramifications, and will play a featured role in the November presidential election. But the justices and their young law clerks — the only ones privy to the deliberations — don't leak opinions. It's virtually unheard of.

When it comes to health care, even the seemingly easy things become hard.

Take coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act.

flickr.com/envios

Despite wide speculation the U.S. Supreme Court would decide on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health care law today, no ruling was forthcoming this morning.

Instead, the high court issued decisions on four other cases, which you can find on the Supreme Court website.

A new survey of 38 former clerks of current Supreme Court justices and 18 attorneys who have argued cases before the high court found that most of them think the court will rule that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The mandate is the centerpiece of the Obama administration's signature health care law and it is unknown whether the law can survive without that piece.

People's Community Clinic

An Austin health clinic is getting $650,000 from the federal government as part of the Obama Administration’s health care overhaul.

People’s Community Clinic is one of more than 200 clinics nationwide to receive money. People’s Community Clinic is using the money to expand access for patients by creating more clinic space.

“Every day there are people who call who would like appointments who we can’t see. And so this is an opportunity to make sure that we have more capacity to meet more of the needs in our community,” said Regina Rogoff, People’s Community Clinic CEO.

Two members of the Senate's Judiciary Committee are asking the Supreme Court to provide live coverage of its proceedings when it hands down its decision on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A Texas A&M University System-led team has won a major federal contract to develop one of three new national centers — the only one led by a public university system — for developing and manufacturing medicine and vaccines to respond to pandemic diseases and bioterror threats.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the contract on Monday. The other contracts were awarded to Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore and Novartis in North Carolina.

After the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, federal officials realized the need to significantly improve the speed of its response to pandemics. These three centers are expected to be the lead responders in the event of a major national biological outbreak, whatever the cause. The center in College Station is expected to first come online in December 2015.

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