Health

Health
5:00 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Debate Could Focus on Asset Tests

Texas lawmakers have ideas to keep the healthcare law out of the state.
Texas Tribune

The state of Texas has not joined in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. At the Conservative Political Action Conference late last week, Governor Rick Perry said he would not let Texas join the expansion unless the Federal government tailored the program for this state.

When Governor Perry spoke at CPAC last week, he gave a list of requirements for Texas to join in Medicaid expansion. Many were items he’s demanded in the past, but one in particular caught the ear of those who support expansion.

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Health
8:05 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Austin School Kids Make Average Grade on Obesity Scale; Texas Lawmaker Wants to Shed Program

AISD students ranked just above average in fitness levels in 2012, but the program that calculates the obesity rates in children is the target of a bill in the legislature.
Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Austin Independent School District teachers may tell their students they’re special, but numbers never lie. And the numbers say that they’re (just a bit) above average.

Thankfully, that’s not a bad thing.

This interactive map from the office of Comptroller Susan Combs displays the body mass index rates of over 2 million students in public schools across Texas. The measurements are based on statistics from the Fitnessgram, a program which measures the fitness levels of Texas public school students from grades three to 12. And it's also the target of a bill in the state legislature that would end the program.

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Health
4:50 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

State Leadership Allows CPRIT to Move Forward on Grants

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Despite an ongoing grant moratorium, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas received permission Wednesday from state leaders to move forward on contract negotiations for 25 grants that would bring renowned cancer researchers to Texas.

“We have worked hard to regain trust with our elected officials and the citizens of Texas,” Wayne Roberts, interim executive director at CPRIT, said in a statement. “We take this action as evidence that some progress has been made, and we will continue to work to strengthen this trust during the coming weeks and months.”

The researcher grants represent a combined $72 million and were formally approved by the CPRIT oversight board in late 2012 before the moratorium took effect. Many of the researchers had moved their families and research labs to Texas in anticipation of receiving CPRIT financing.

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Health
4:03 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Officials Looking for Possible Rabies Exposure Victim

A security camera image shows the man who delivered a sick bat to Austin Vet Care.
courtesy Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services

The city-county health department is trying to find a man to let him know he may have been exposed to rabies.

The man delivered an unhealthy bat to Austin Vet Care on North Lamar Sunday afternoon.

If that’s you or someone you know, you’re asked to contact the health department’s disease surveillance program at 972-5555.

Women's Health
8:20 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

North Dakota Bill Bans Abortions After Heartbeat Is Found

Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, talks to reporters at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on Friday.
James MacPherson AP

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 5:55 pm

A week after the Arkansas legislature passed the strictest measure in the country on abortion, North Dakota's legislature passed a bill that goes further and would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected.

Arkansas' bill banned abortions after 12 weeks; North Dakota's could ban them as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

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Public Safety
1:31 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Americans More Distracted Behind The Wheel Than Europeans

A woman uses a cellphone while driving in Los Angeles in 2011.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 3:34 pm

U.S. drivers are much more likely than Europeans to drive while distracted, federal health officials report Thursday.

Nearly 69 percent of Americans who drive say that they talked on their cell phones while driving at least once in the previous month, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's a lot higher than what was reported by Europeans in another survey. Only 21 percent of British drivers reported chatting on their cell phones while behind the wheel, for example. In Germany and France it was about 40 percent.

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Drugs
10:05 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Neurologists Warn Against ADHD Drugs To Help Kids Study

Ten milligram tablets of the prescription drug Adderall. The drug is used to treat ADHD and is used by some students to boost their academic performance.
Jb Reed Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 8:48 am

Adderall and other ADHD medications are among the most prescribed drugs in America.

Quite a few of those pills don't end up being used to treat ADHD, though. They're used as "smart drugs" or "study drugs" by students who find the pills give them a mental edge.

The American Academy of Neurology now says: Stop that.

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Women's Health
7:48 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Capitol Rally Shows Support for Planned Parenthood

Stephanie March addresses a rally for Planned Parenthood at the Capitol.
Ann Choi/KUT News

Planned Parenthood supporters marched on the Texas Capitol today to protest cuts to women’s health programs. Planned Parenthood says it had to close 51 clinics across Texas after state lawmakers cut it out of a program that funds health screenings and other basic services for low-income women. 

Their keynote speaker at today’s rally was Stephanie March, an actor from Dallas who appears on Law & Order: SVU.

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Health
1:15 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Study: 'Sonogram Bill' Doesn't Change Minds About Abortion

Right now, Texas law requires women who want an abortion to get a sonogram first.
Erich Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The Texas law that requires women wait twenty-four hours after receiving an ultrasound to get an abortion is not causing them to change their minds but is causing “excessive hardship.”

That’s according to a new survey by researchers at the University of Texas and a Massachusetts research group that favors women’s reproductive rights.

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Health
6:13 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

March for Texas Expanding Medicaid

Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez was one of the lawmakers speaking in support of Medicaid expansion today.
Mike Martinez via Facebook

Supporters of Texas expanding access to Medicaid, among them representatives of Planned Parenthood, marched up Congress Avenue Tuesday to the Capitol steps.

They’re calling on Texas lawmakers to accept Federal money as part of the Affordable Care Act to get healthcare to more than a million Texans who otherwise would not have it.

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Health
3:10 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

GOP Caucus Opposes Medicaid Expansion - With Caveats

So far, Gov. Rick Perry is standing firm on not expanding Medicaid, and has not expressed particular interest in any other states' compromises.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

House Republicans on Monday agreed not to expand Medicaid as called for under the federal Affordable Care Act — but left the door open to doing it if the Obama administration grants Texas enough flexibility.

“The current path as proposed is unsustainable from a fiscal standpoint,” said caucus chairman Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe. He said the caucus would continue to “propose solutions on the issue, which we’re formulating and will continue to do so throughout the session.” 

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Health
2:02 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Senators’ Diagnosis: State Health Head Janek Fit to Lead

The Senate Nominations committee met today to confirm Dr. Kyle Janek as head of the Department of State Health Services.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate's Nominations committee confirmed Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of Dr. Kyle Janek as the head of the state’s largest healthcare service provider for low-income and aging Texans – the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Janek spoke to Sen. Jane Nelson about the future of funding and providing Medicaid services for Texans, asserting that the state should take a more streamlined approach to providing and funding healthcare.

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Health
1:00 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

UT is Now Smoke-Free - But How Will the Policy be Enforced?

UT-Austin is now officially smoke-free, with all 15 temporary smoking areas going away.
flickr.com/smorchon

The University of Texas at Austin is now officially, 100 percent smoke free. 

The policy takes full-effect today. But it started last year when the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas announced it would not fund research for any institution that allowed smoking on-site. In April, UT set up 15 temporary smoking locations. But those go away today.

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Health
7:51 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Texas Hospitals Hope Perry Follows New Jersey on Medicaid Expansion

Daniel Reese, KUT News

New Jersey’s Chris Christie is the latest Republican Governor to change his mind and accept the federal Medicaid expansion in his state. The move is emboldening groups in Texas who would like to see Governor Perry also accept the provision of the Affordable Care Act.

John Hawkins is a policy analyst with the Texas Hospital Association. He says hospitals in the state provide $5 billion annually in uncompensated care.

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Health
11:22 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Parents, Just Say No To Sharing Tales Of Drug Use With Kids

Have a talk about avoiding drug use early and often. And don't overshare.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 6:55 am

It's a moment many parents dread — sitting down to talk with their kid about drugs. What should they say? Will the conversation have any effect? And should they mention their own youthful indiscretions?

Parents can get advice from the family doctor or pediatrician and places like the Partnership at Drugfree.org (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America), though there's not been much evidence to back up the recommendations.

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Health
7:00 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Call at Capitol for More Money for Texas Women's Health

The state is looking at whether the $30 million needed can be found within Texas' Health Dept.
courtesy flickr.com/comedynose

Women’s Health programs may be getting more funding this legislative session.

A group of senators led by Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson is recommending a spending boost of $100 million.

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Women's Health
4:48 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Morning-After Pills Don't Cause Abortion, Studies Say

Plan B is one of two emergency contraceptives available in the U.S.
UPI/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 3:51 pm

The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.

Specifically, do emergency contraceptives interfere with a fertilized egg and cause what some consider to be abortion?

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Health
11:49 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Overdose Deaths From Narcotics Keep Climbing

Hydrocodone pills, the generic version of Vicodin, shown at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 5:12 pm

For the 11th year running, deaths from drug overdoses rose in the U.S in 2010.

Pharmaceuticals were involved in more than half of the 38,329 overdose deaths that year.

Opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone, or Vicodin, were the most common prescription drugs implicated. They were cited in 16,651 fatalities, or 44 percent of the total.

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Women's Health
3:33 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

New Poll: Texans Support Funding Family Planning Services

The Texas Freedom Network says contrary to lawmakers, Texas voters support family planning services
Ann Choi, KUT News

A new poll finds support for state-funded family planning from Texans across race, religion and party affiliation.

The survey by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found more than 70 percent of registered Texas voters support family planning funding such as birth control. The finding includes groups thought to be more socially conservative, like Republican women, Hispanics and Catholics.

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Health
11:00 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Report Finds 'Systemic Failures' at State Hospitals Led to Patient Abuse, Neglect

flickr.com/ashleyrosex

A new report finds serious breakdowns in procedures and safeguards by state-run hospitals across Texas.

The year-long investigation was by Disability Rights Texas—an organization designated by federal law to protect people with disabilities.

The report is titled “Turning a Blind Eye" and is focused on systemic failures within the state agencies that Disability Rights Texas says dismissed patient safety.

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