The saddest aspect of the AHCA debacle is that we’ve gone backward as a country. Obamacare taught us that in a health care system that operates via a private, for-profit health insurance mechanism, there are only two options: guaranteed coverage with high costs or insufficient coverage with lower costs.
Physicians and patients need a transparent process for determining which drugs are covered by the state’s Medicaid Vendor Drug program and ultimately, who is making the decision as to what is best for the patient. The health care community treating patients and the patients affected should be able to provide feedback on why certain medications should be accessible.
As we reach the end of a legislative session surrounded by hundreds of bills that died on the vine, there is one that stands out as worthwhile and urgent: Senate Bill 354, the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids bill (known as “LEAD-K”). This bill would ensure that deaf children arrive at kindergarten with language milestones commensurate to their hearing peers.
I don’t spend time planning retirement or saving for things like boats or vacations. I don’t worry about my future career or strive for a position of authority or wealth. I worry about what happens when I am not on this planet to watch and look after my special-needs son, Landon.
There’s still a little time for state lawmakers to make real progress for kids before the legislative session ends on May 29, but as of today our state legislators are at great risk of falling short.
The decision for what medication to use and when to use it is based on the patient’s medical condition, his or her history and myriad other factors that are based on a deep knowledge of the drugs, condition and patient preferences and goals. Only the physician and the patient know what choice will be best for that patient. Not the insurance company.
Acute care therapy provides speech, physical and occupational therapy for kids who, like our son, have birth defects, genetic disorders, physical or cognitive disabilities or those born prematurely. The therapy enables them to function in daily life. The Legislature should restore funding for that therapy.
A 2016 report in the medical journal “Obstetrics and Gynecology” revealed that maternal mortality rates in Texas increased from 18.6 per 100,000 births in 2010 to 35.8 in 2014. Maternal mortality is decreasing worldwide, but the opposite trend is happening in every U.S. state except California — and it’s especially pronounced in Texas.
Parents are uniquely positioned to help kids understand the choices they make during their formative years and the consequences they carry. Specifically, you have the opportunity to help your teenaged kids avoid becoming pregnant (or getting someone pregnant).
Only one of every four foster care providers in Texas is a faith-based organization. Providing conscience protection for families will enable pastors to encourage loving families to be part of a caring network for these children and to stop worrying that potential lawsuits will take limited resources away from the people we should be helping.
Syringe exchange is an accepted part of public health programs in almost all countries of Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. It works in most states in the United States. It will work in Texas.
You might be surprised that Medicaid funding plays such an important role in schools. But Medicaid dollars are critical for making sure many students receive the therapeutic services, health coverage, and developmental screenings that will set them up to thrive.
If the state expands on foster care redesign to implement enhanced community-based foster care, private providers could assume responsibility for a region and the obligation to work with local stakeholders to implement a model of care most appropriate to that community.
Keeping children in their existing communities will bolster security and reduce the stress of being taken from their home. By becoming temporary caregivers, community members could test the waters before becoming foster parents and simultaneously expand the pool that Child Protective Services can use for placements.
Many Texans have stories just like mine; tragic stories that could have been prevented if we simply did something to lessen the use of this addictive substance. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to prevent people from abusing an even more dangerous form of it: powdered alcohol.
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) perform a vital, important function in our health care delivery system. However, they are not physicians, any more than I am a nurse. Texas is correct to keep its team-based care approach. It ensures patients receive care from each member of the patient care team, based on his or her knowledge, training and expertise.
Even though Texas legislators have taken steps to protect patients, insurance providers can – and do – still engage in a practice called “non-medical switching,” where patients’ prescriptions are changed to other, more profitable treatments.
Everyone knows the costs of the American health care system are epically high. But health centers keep costs down, saving the system $24 billion per year by keeping people out of costly emergency rooms for things like an earache or cold. But a rash of policy decisions coming out of Washington this year won't retain or improve health centers' delivery model.
Each year, more and more business owners tell us that surprising and exorbitant out-of-network medical bills from facilities called freestanding emergency rooms are taking up a larger chunk of their health care budgets.
Despite growing evidence and a body of research showing favorable patient outcomes and excellent quality of care in states where advanced practice registered nurses have full practice authority, Texas still prevents them from doing what they can do and what patients desperately need. As a result, Texans who could be treated by an APRN have no care at all.
Some truly outstanding people work in the living centers. They make herculean efforts to improve the quality of life for residents. However, they’re fighting against a rip tide that can drown the most determined caregiver. Direct care is one of the most difficult jobs: turnover is outrageously high, and as a state we provide few incentives to keep doing it—let alone to do it well.
Insurance carriers driving out high-quality providers with unfair practices does not serve consumers or their communities. It limits access to timely emergency care. Don’t be fooled by the false narrative that freestanding ERs avoid contracting with health plans for financial benefit. Insurance companies should improve their networks and offer fair payment to the freestanding ER industry.
Three years ago, I visited a children’s shelter and learned about a 14-year-old mother with two children. The child-mom and her babies were in the Texas foster care system. Legally, Texas was the parent of all three: all three vulnerable children at risk for more abuse, poverty, and a lifetime on welfare.
An overwhelming majority of Texas voters support the requirement for a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public. This issue shouldn’t even be up for debate.
For President Trump, improving the security of Americans lies in bolstering a defense system that is “stretched far too thin.” This affirms a Republican ethos on safety and security and yet we know, from years of work in economically distressed communities, that these cuts target the very security systems — social, educational, emotional and health — that children rely upon to survive and thrive.
A food retail incentive fund would provide financial assistance to businesses looking to expand healthy retail into "food deserts" while also attracting additional private and philanthropic dollars to further bolster development. This novel approach would unleash the power of the free market and create businesses and jobs.
Working collaboratively with youth and valuing their perspectives is a key part of the solution to the state's foster care problem. Young people are telling us something when they run from care, and it is time to start listening. They often know what works best for them and research suggests that allowing youth to participate in decisions about their lives may help them heal.
The Texas Legislature, on average, has consistently funded only 80 percent of what it costs to provide for children in foster care. On average, community foster care and partner providers who provide specialized services for acutely traumatized children lose money every day they care for a child.
It’s such a bad idea that more than 30 states have already banned powdered alcohol completely – even Louisiana! Texas should follow their lead by passing a ban instead of creating regulations that could help establish a market for powdered alcohol in our state.
Years of hostile policies have already left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and other preventive care. It’s time for politicians to get serious about helping Texans access quality, affordable health care and allow Planned Parenthood health centers to fully participate in Texas’ health safety net.
Yes, ER visits are expensive. Consumers are paying to have highly trained staff and millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and pharmaceuticals on hand to save their life. And that is why consumers need to start listening to ER doctors when they say that an injury or illness does not require emergency care.
CPS intervention separates over 30,000 children from their parents each year. Seizing children should be the last resort. State custody presents risks to children that dirty homes, disconnected utilities, and differences of opinion on what constitutes good parenting simply do not justify.
SB 6 isn’t just a threat to the Texas economy, it’s also a serious threat to the safety of transgender youth and adults who already face high levels of bullying, discrimination and even violence.
As Texas-based abortion funds that work directly with people most impacted by abortion restrictions (the majority of whom are low-income women of color who are already parenting), we know that the fight for reproductive rights and justice is about more than the right to choose an abortion — it's about real access and affordability when that right is already established.
If Texas controlled its own Medicaid program and received a no-strings federal block grant, we could change everything: radical administrative simplification, eligibility standards, verification processes, insurance packages, “work requirements” and reimbursement schedules.
These mothers were struggling parents in the beginning — but their stories also reveal messages of resilient and accomplished parenting. We need to understand more about the struggles and successes of parents who have experienced foster care, to identify these youth and offer them the care they need and deserve.
In practice, doctors generally charge higher rates and insurers generally pay lower rates; when they can’t agree, the patient gets a surprise bill. Since we live in a free society, it is reasonable to support both the physician and insurance company positions, but it seems unfair to place the patient financially in the middle of this difference of opinion between businesses.
Raising the smoking age would be an ambitious stride towards achieving a healthier, wealthier Texas, moving our state to the front of the pack in national efforts to curb preventable death and disease.
Government has a role to play in helping the poor, the elderly and disabled. Our elected Texas officeholders shouldn’t ignore this group of citizens. Most of our current social services are rated at or near the bottom compared to other states.
Texas has a serious mental health problem. Far too often, and far too expensively, we’re dealing with it through our criminal justice system and other systems poorly designed to help and support people with mental health challenges.
We shouldn’t just chase the CPS epidemic — let’s get ahead of it: Invest in prevention or watch more children suffer and pay dearly for it.
Telemedicine is an invaluable modern tool that improves access, convenience, efficiency and quality of care in Texas. Yet Texas has some of the strictest regulatory barriers limiting its use.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth trust and confide in their teachers about their sexual orientation or gender identity when they perceive that their families will not be accepting. In many cases, a teacher may be the only adult that an LGBTQ youth has come out to.
The state's proposed fetal tissue regulations are yet another example of a poorly masked attempt to limit Texans’ Constitutional right to access abortion. Thanks to protections secured under Roe v. Wade, Texans continue to be protected from attempts to prohibit and shame abortion care like the proposed fetal tissue rules.
Texans have again sent to the Legislature a pro-life majority, which includes some who merely profess that view for re-election efforts. Regardless, voters across the state expect those campaign promises to be upheld, protecting innocent unborn human life and safeguarding pregnant women.
Texas should prohibit all forms of tobacco use on the grounds and campuses of all state agencies, including state institutions of higher education, and we should do everything possible to prevent kids from starting to smoke.
Despite politics and moral beliefs, it is undisputed that abortion is a medical procedure and is a necessary component of reproductive health care.
Our desire to find an effective therapy for our son's disease proved to be a long, frustrating process — not because of his physician but because of an insurance company practice called step therapy.
Diapers should be added to the sales tax exempt list not just for health reasons; it also makes economic sense.
Texans recognize that the problems at CPS are not with the hardworking people in the agency but are the natural result of legacy thinking, which trusts the state to institutionalize, engineer and manage families.
We must ensure that taxpayer money is spent as efficiently as possible and demand accountability from state agencies for each dollar that the Legislature appropriates.
The fetal remains rule move places an additional barrier on women who seek to exercise their constitutional right and represents another attempt to shame and restrict access to abortion care.
I work for abortion access in Texas: I'm used to fighting uphill.
As we commemorate World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, our hope is health care providers, the public and policymakers in Texas realize the virus is still invading neighborhoods at astonishing rates, often so silently that increasing numbers of youth don't realize they are living with HIV.
In faith-based foster care, there is an increased likelihood of prospective foster and adoptive parents’ theological and personal convictions directly conflicting with the acceptance and affirmation LGBT youth require.
The Affordable Care Act, a sweeping law full of crushing regulations and burdensome mandates, has accomplished exactly the opposite of what President Obama naively promised while shattering the confidence of millions Americans in the process.
Medicaid and Obamacare are already failing. Texas should retain its focus on fostering an economic environment that creates a path to self-sufficiency.
This month, the Texas Department of State Health Services took public comments on a new proposed rule that will preserve the right of the youngest Texans to be treated with dignity by requiring fetal remains from abortions and miscarriages to be buried or cremated.
Overinflated promises being made for expansion of Texas' Medicaid program remind us of two time-proven adages: "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," and "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we should place special focus on the leading killer among women aged 20-59: metastatic breast cancer.
Texans must remain vigilant to keep Zika at bay.
A huge percentage of our tax dollars are wasted by state laws and policies we could fix here in Texas.
While HB 2 is gone, one of the harshest barriers to abortion access for Texans remains. The Hyde Amendment, a federal policy passed each year by Congress as part of the budget process, bans coverage for abortion services for people enrolled in Medicaid.
My son Ryan was your typical, energetic, sweet five-year-old just before his diagnosis. But 10 months ago, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The opioid public health epidemic will not be solved with a one-size-fits-all approach. Physicians, legislators, and other state leaders must all work together to reduce the harms of the epidemic in Texas.
Here’s something Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood and I have in common: Neither one of us is the person you should consult for medical advice for your children.
If we do not deal with the runaway cost of health care, Texas is destined for a fiscal and health crisis.
Our state's foster system has seen an endless cycle of high-profile problems followed by legislative response over the past 30 years. It's time to break that cycle.
Recently, 55 promising young medical students donned their white coats for the very first time as the inaugural class at the School of Medicine at University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, a sign of hope for the both the Valley and the future of Texas.
Terminal patients have enough on their hands fighting for their lives. They should not have to fight the government, too.
We have all heard the tragic stories of our children who've been failed by the system. But instead of pointing fingers, let's take meaningful action now to produce better outcomes for those most in need.
Propaganda has led parents to believe that toxins in vaccines will injure their children, that the vaccines probably won't work and that they aren't even necessary anyway. But of course, none of that is true.
When it comes to experimental drug access, circumventing Food and Drug Administration protections can leave terminally ill patients vulnerable to unknown — and possibly deadly — side effects.
Let's be clear: There is nothing conscientious about rejecting vaccines for non-medical reasons.
It is in the best interest of all Texas women, infants and families that we press our legislators for swift action to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.
With the threat of Zika looming in Texas, preventive health care for women has never been more important. Fortunately, there are concrete steps the state can take to get in front of Zika and limit its impact.
While the news stories and photos of people inflicted with Vibrio vulnificus are certainly chilling, the chance of infection is extraordinarily low. In fact, with a few commonsense precautions, the risk is almost nonexistent.
The Supreme Court's decision to strike down key provisions of House Bill 2 doesn't eliminate the burdens women carry in trying to access legal abortion in Texas, but it does considerably lighten the load.
Doctors should have the final say in the medicine a patient receives, but a practice known as step therapy too often puts that decision in the hands of insurance companies.
Physical health and mental health are inextricably bound together. But we can easily lose sight of how poorly and infrequently this basic truth is reflected in the systems we’ve developed to care for ourselves and one another.
As news of widespread lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, continues to dominate headlines, Texas residents could be facing similar consequences from a source of lead that most would never consider: shooting ranges.
New research on lifting families from poverty suggests that the key is to help both the children and the parents together.
Proposed changes to Texas' Medicaid program, intended to cut costs, could result in medical complications that hurt the vulnerable people served by the Medicaid program and cost the state more in the long run.
During this uncertain time, it is more important than ever that the child welfare community come together to ensure that children's needs come first, providing them with the same opportunity to thrive as any other child.
Increasing demand for registered nurses, waves of Baby Boomers retiring from the profession and the specialized needs of an aging population have strained the nation's short supply of nurses.
For those with the most acute or profoundly disabling mental illnesses, the inability to access ongoing care has a devastating impact on their lives, their families and their communities.
The Child Protective Services-related stories that have been in the news lately are symptoms of a broken system. The deaths of children and the poor outcomes of foster youth are the result of more than just overworked caseworkers.
I have been asked repeatedly over the past few days "what I can say" about LifeWorks' involvement with Meechiael Criner, the suspect in the death of UT-Austin student Haruka Weiser. If he is found guilty of this terrible crime, we will be left to debate whom is to be held responsible for his fate — himself alone, school bullies, foster care, parents? I hold no hope for an easy answer.
The outcome of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt could have devastating effects on Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls in Texas and all across the country.
While a vaccine against Zika might be years away, we have the ability to protect Texas from dangerous diseases right now. The Governor’s Task Force should consider expanding its priorities to include vaccine-preventable diseases and addressing non-medical exemptions.
My cerebral palsy doesn’t prevent me from working and living my life, but it does stop me from turning a doorknob.
As a leader at an abortion fund in Texas, I see firsthand the consequences of restrictive anti-abortion laws — consequences that too often fall on people of color, non-english speakers, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ people and those who are struggling financially.
For us in the United States right now, prevention is key to addressing the Zika virus. Panic is not. There is a big difference.
Recent research conducted in Houston is beginning to reveal how far-reaching the risk of diabetes really is and how even people who may not consider themselves vulnerable may be on a path to developing the disease.
When the state removed me from my family, I thought I would finally have the chance to escape the abuse I had become so accustomed to at home. Instead, I was thrust into a nightmare that was worse than anything I had experienced before.
Get a flu shot today. Do it for Texas’ kids, and do it for yourself.
A lack of ready access to mental health treatment results in nearly insurmountable problems when our emergency rooms, nursing homes, homeless shelters and prisons take on that role in addition to their primary responsibilities.
This year, I was especially thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with my family, as a recent cancer diagnosis taught me the importance of getting health insurance coverage.
Every day, I witness the pain caused by Texas' inhumane and tyrannical attempts to restrict women's access to abortion and health care.
The recent decision made by officials at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood marks a step toward higher health and safety standards for women and children.
The recent attempts by the State of Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates from the state’s Medicaid program puts women and girls at risk.
Bottom line: It’s impossible to assess the impact of red meat consumption in isolation, and it’s unrealistic to single out one food that can cause or cure cancer.
Texas is now vulnerable to an infectious disease crisis that could become far more dangerous and deadly than Ebola: the return of childhood diseases we once thought eliminated.
Texas politicians will go great lengths to make a necessary, legal, and constitutionally protected medical procedure nearly impossible to access in our state, with the greatest harms falling on young people, immigrant women, low-income families and those living in rural areas.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith’s record reveals a public servant staunchly on the side of protecting Americans’ privacy — unless you’re a victim of asbestos-related disease. In that case, he believes you should be required to make public large chunks of your sensitive personal information on the internet.
Calling for or even considering a federal government shutdown over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood is a strategy that never would have worked. Better options exist for achieving success, like those we’ve taken in Texas.
In his battle cry inciting Congress and fellow governors to denounce the Affordable Care Act, Greg Abbott states loud and clear that my life and the lives of the million-plus Texans receiving health care via Obamacare don’t matter to him.
Texas’ proposed rate cuts to Medicaid’s acute pediatric care therapy would be devastating to our daughter's care. We must compel the state’s health officials to come up with something better.
As Congress prepares to reconvene in September, House Republicans cannot hold the fiscal purse of our nation captive in favor of reviving the failed fight to defund Planned Parenthood.
Given decreases in funding and staffing at state and local health departments in the years since Hurricane Katrina, Texas may not be as prepared to care for storm evacuees in the future.
State lawmakers must make restructuring and replacing Texas' outdated mental health hospital system a top priority.
Thanks to the Legislature, we’re one step closer to a day when all Texans will be able to contribute to their own economic independence.
The Obama administration is attempting to coerce Texas into expanding Medicaid against state lawmakers' better judgment — and against voters' wishes.
Tobacco prevention is good health policy and good fiscal policy. So it's troubling that the Texas Senate’s budget proposal would reduce tobacco prevention funding by over 30 percent.
Our families were shaken by preventable diseases. The Texas Legislature should help make sure no family goes through the same thing.
I respect the rights of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. In return, I simply ask that they respect my right to know the school where my medically fragile child will be safest.
This is the year our state leaders must stand up against uninformed ideological shouting and support a way to extend health coverage to all eligible Texans.
State lawmakers will no doubt hear calls this session for a “Texas way” to expand Medicaid. They should keep in mind the other states that have fallen for that argument.
Falling vaccination rates have made the resurgence of preventable diseases inevitable. But as a measles outbreak grows, we can take steps to protect ourselves and our children.
It’s unthinkable that the Texas Legislature would turn back the clock on something as basic as women's access to cancer screenings. Of course, the state is no stranger to these kinds of maneuvers.
Don't expect a parting of the Red Sea on Medicaid expansion, but Texas lawmakers this year can make meaningful strides on issues like price transparency and medical education.
Some Texans live in places so remote, they might as well be outer space. That's why many of the medical innovations that we’re developing for astronauts have the potential to improve the practice of medicine on Earth.
It was supposed to be the No. 1 election issue this year, but it quickly faded. With Ebola now dominating headlines, it’s time for a rational debate over what we should’ve been talking about all along: health coverage.
Our first obligation must be to protect U.S. citizens. That’s why airport screenings aren’t enough.
If Ebola had to arrive anywhere in in the U.S., Texas, which boasts a robust public health infrastructure, may have been the best place. We’ll be ready for the next outbreak, too. But we can’t do it alone.
Even now that an Ebola case has been confirmed in Dallas, the chances of the disease spreading in the U.S. are slim. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried about infectious diseases, some of which present a far more menacing threat than Ebola.
Cuts to family planning services don't just hurt Texas women and their families. The cumulative impact of women having more children than they desire strains public health systems and natural resources.
A decade after an overmedication crisis in Texas’ foster care system was brought to light, the state has dramatically reduced psychotropic drug use among foster children. And understanding how Texas did it could be key to solving future policy problems.
It's long past time for Texas to join the national trend of deinstitutionalization and begin closing and consolidating its state centers for people with disabilities.
Politicians painted House Bill 2 as an effort to make abortion safer. The reality Texas women face today has exposed those claims for what they are: deceptive tactics that will ban abortion for most Texans and make women's health care less safe.
Under Texas' new abortion law, women who opt for the procedure will receive a significantly higher standard of care. That's why pro-life groups like ours support House Bill 2.
Many Texans have expressed concern about the possible spread of disease from the flood of immigrant children into our state. Here's the truth: These diseases are serious, but they're not new to Texas.
Women were already struggling to access vital health services in Texas. After Monday's Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, yet another target has been painted on our backs.
Texas' small businesses can rest easier after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that, just like individuals, family corporations enjoy religious liberty protected by federal law.
President Obama has declared victory in the Affordable Care Act debate, but a closer look at enrollment data from Texas shows that the White House's celebrating was premature.
Pro-choice advocates' framing of their activism as "reproductive justice" masks the true horrors of a brutal procedure. Here's the truth: Abortion ends a life. Where's the justice in that?
More than 730,000 Texans have signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That's a great start, but we're not done fighting for more access to health care, especially among Hispanics.
A small group of politicians bent on imposing their personal agenda have created a health care catastrophe for Texas women. It's time to put an end to this appalling situation.
There's no question that Texas politics is a contact sport. But releasing lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick's personal medical records was out of bounds.