Health

Health
2:18 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Report: Texas Needs to Catch Up in Quality of Health Care

The state ranks last in the nation in quality of health care, a new report said.
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.”

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Health
9:03 am
Thu July 5, 2012

State Looks to Cut Number of Medicaid-Covered Premature Births

Natasha and Mark Rosen, of Austin, with premature baby Matthew, in Seton Medical Center Austin's neonatal intensive care unit.
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.”

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Homelessness
3:16 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

After Slaying, a Call for Homeless Women's Shelter

House the Homeless' memorial marker in memory of fallen homeless.
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.

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Health
2:15 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Why Newest Teen Sexting Study May Be the Most Accurate

A sexting study author attributes surprising findings to more thorough sampling.
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.

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Health
10:30 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Video: Health Care Rally at Texas Capitol

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. 

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Health
4:59 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

As It Happened: Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law

Supporters of President Obama's health care legislation celebrated outside after hearing that the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 11:39 am

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.

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Health
3:22 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Health Care Law Upheld: Now What?

A bulletin board in New York's Jamaica Hospital offers advice for uninsured patients.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 3:26 pm

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:

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Health
12:33 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

They Got it Wrong - CNN, Fox Mistakenly Report Health Care Law Overturned

A Photoshopped alteration of the iconic Harry Truman photo. Tweeted by Gary He.
http://yfrog.com/hw7ozrfj

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 1:32 pm

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.

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Health
11:15 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Texas Reactions to SCOTUS’ Affordable Care Act Opinion

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.”

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Health
10:36 am
Thu June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Rules Federal Health Reform Constitutional

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.

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8:18 am
Thu June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Health Care Ruling Today?

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.
At the heart of it all is one legal question: Can the federal government compel uninsured people to buy health coverage?Opponents of the law see the so-called individual mandate as coercive and an illegal intrusion by the federal government. Some supporters of the law liken the insurance requirement to the same one for auto coverage.The high court could strike down the law entirely, chuck the mandate and leave other parts of the law intact, or uphold the whole thing.
Health
1:08 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Read The Tea Leaves, But Justices (And Their Clerks) Aren't Telling

The U.S. Supreme Court
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 1:26 pm

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.

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Health
8:57 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Why Many Young Adults Might Lose Coverage if Health Law Falls

Jackson Cahn, who graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., is one of the 3 million young adults the Obama administration says would have risked going without insurance if the health care law hadn't allowed them to stay on their parents' policies. Because of the law, his mother, June Blender, was able to add him to her insurance.
Courtesy of June Blender

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 8:39 am

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

Take coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act.

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Health
9:48 am
Thu June 21, 2012

Supreme Court Punts on Health Care Decision

A health care decision may now come Monday.
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.

Health
3:17 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Survey: Insiders Think Supreme Court Will Strike Health Care Mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on June 18.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 12:17 pm

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.

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Health
12:38 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Health Care Law Grant Helping Austin Clinic Expand

Federal funds will help People's Community Clinic see more patients.
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.

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Health
10:07 am
Wed June 20, 2012

Senators Ask Supreme Court To Televise Health Care Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on June 18.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 3:40 pm

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.

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Health
2:42 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

A&M System Lands Major Federal Biosecurity Contract

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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Health
12:45 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Insurers Wait for Verdict on Health Care Law - and Profits

Demonstrators both for and against the health care law turned out on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 27, the second day of oral arguments before the court.
John Rose NPR

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 5:25 pm

All eyes these days are trained on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule sometime this month on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

But some people are waiting more anxiously for the court to rule than others. Among them are those with a major financial stake in whether the law goes forward or not and if so, in what form.

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Health
1:00 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Teen HIV Cases on the Rise in Austin

An HIV virus under an electron microscope
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Local officials are warning of an increase in HIV infections in Austin’s adolescent population.

“We’ve identified just in the last few months about five newly confirmed HIV cases,” Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Medical Director Dr. Philip Huang tells KUT News. “By comparison, all of last year in Travis County, we had six cases.”

Dr. Huang couldn’t speak to specific cases, but cited Centers for Diseases Control statistics regarding sexually-active adolescents: some 52 percent of Texas high school students have had sex at least once, and only 54 percent of sexually active students used a condom the last time they had sex.

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