It is critical that funding for licensed mental health professionals be provided for districts throughout the state. Students with readily accessible emotional and mental health support are more likely to be better prepared for life after high school and become productive citizens.
In addressing extreme school violence, understanding the difference between mental and emotional health is critical. Contrary to popular belief, mental illness is not the root cause of the vast majority of school shootings.
A program that sticks kids in a gym to learn about everything except sex is not a program that can last. If Texas schools continue to push abstinence-only programs instead of listening to the research, our children will continue to suffer from a lack of information.
I love our school, but schools need to report vaccination rates so parents can keep their kids safe and well.
Let’s make it easier for teen mothers to raise healthy children, and for low-income older teens to have the opportunity to delay having families until they complete their education and start their adult lives with self-sufficiency and promise for the future.
We should reward the time and effort of those who have spent a number of legislative sessions thinking deeply about our state hospital system, and we should respond now with funding support that matches the ambition and innovativeness of the collective plans submitted.
Freestanding emergency centers could be a vital resource for Texans who have very few options for outpatient care, especially in rural parts of the state.
It is imperative that child-care providers are trained to care for children with disabilities, and that families have access to care.
Efforts to dismiss or treat as crazy parents who raise questions about vaccines have been counterproductive: While vaccination rates are rising nationally, the number of parents declining all vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001.
Today, the law says that nursing home residents must give consent for antipsychotics to be administered. And yet, all too often, family members of nursing home residents still report a lack of awareness of these drugs being administered.
While many states have passed legislation in recent years explicitly prohibiting mental health professionals from using conversion therapy with LGBTQ youth, legislation to protect professionals who engage in this practice is pending in the Texas Legislature. That would further marginalize and threaten the safety and mental health of some of our state’s most vulnerable youth.
For many Texans, finding a doctor to treat even a routine illness can be a challenge. When wait times are too long, or the price tag seems too high, people have a tendency to ignore an injury or illness, increasing the likelihood that a minor issue could worsen into a major one that can require expensive treatments or even hospitalization.
Leading health systems have already shown we can dramatically reduce rates of infectious disease and beat back the ravages of cancer. Similarly, with the support of state leaders, our medical leaders can provide Texas with proven treatments beyond just medication to help children heal from emotional wounds. Texas families and children deserve no less.
“Aim High,” the U.S. Air Force used to say to recruit young Americans. But it’s hard to aim high or serve your country when your health is suffering from a culture of tobacco addiction.
For patients with chronic health conditions, finding stability is a painful, time-consuming and expensive process that may take months or years, with visits to various specialists, treatments tried and failed, time away from work and family and even costly hospitalizations when things go wrong.
Now it is time for Texas to step up and pass a statewide law raising the tobacco sale age to 21. It is simply unacceptable for our great state to continue losing lives and money to a preventable problem.
Legislators of Texas, in the midst of ever-increasing vaccination exemptions, consider drafting legislation to eliminate exemptions of conscience. And parents, with the flu season upon us, I implore you to vaccinate your children. The lives of our kids are invaluable. Without this lifesaving preventative medicine, the next victim of this unforgiving killer could be yours.
Continued reform and overhaul, better education for foster parents and providers and addressing the level of incarceration discrimination in our society would help fight the injustice of imprisoning children who are abandoned not only by their families, but by the systems that were created to protect them.
We all know Texas is a conservative state, with a conservative legislature and a conservative governor, and that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. So, when we talk about reforming our state’s cannabis laws, there is no question that expanding access to medical cannabis in Texas is a complex matter with unique challenges.
Expand current Public Health Emergency Support Functions from hospitals and long-term care facilities to recognize the role of community health centers. By recognizing their importance and connecting them to resources at critical moments, we can increase the speed of community response in future disasters and decrease the length of recovery.
We urge the Texas Legislature to require teacher development programs designed to enhance the emotional health of our children. A modest sum of $2,000 per school would fund the mandate and bless the lives of countless kids in Texas who suffer from acute emotional isolation.
Health care may not be perfect. It can and should continue to improve. But Texas Medicaid is working, and our son, in his 20th year of life, and our family – which is stronger and more optimistic than ever – is a testament to that fact.
Transparency and prevention must replace shame and blame to effectively keep patients safe. The physicians’ Hippocratic credo — “to keep them from harm and injustice"— must be reaffirmed. Patients and physicians deserve a culture of justice.
Without the Affordable Care Act, those living with autism and other pre-existing conditions will be denied coverage and will have little to no access to the health care treatment and therapy that they greatly need.
We want to build a future where our families can thrive, and where we can make our own decisions about pregnancy and parenting. In Texas, reproductive rights and justice advocates know what it's like to face tough odds. We’ve been fighting for ourselves, and each other, for generations.
When parents, teens, and schools are equipped with the resources, information and support they need to address the mental health needs of our youth, we will move closer to achieving the goal of zero suicides.
If we become a nation that refuses to care for the sick and disabled, where only the rich can afford medical care, we will never be great. Children like Grayson will continue to pay the price for the greed of those determining whose life is worth saving.
We need red flag laws because of individuals’ potential harm to themselves from owning guns and suffering from depression and other mental disorders. We must heed police departments around the state and country that see these laws as necessary.
As football season begins again this fall, there is much to celebrate: sporting victories for young athletes and Frito pies for visitors and fans in the stands. However, the beginning of football season also reminds us of the risks of concussion for our high school athletes.
Texas providers are working hard to prepare for what we hope will never happen again. Texans should be proud of the work done by our assisted living communities to address the safety of elderly Texans.
We’re a year removed from the devastation Hurricane Harvey inflicted on the people, businesses and communities in Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast. We’ve witnessed heroes, healing, recovery and rebuilding, but some wounds are more silent and endure.
Texas leads the nation in hospital closures, with 15 since 2013 and they have all been rural. Part of the reason is geography. Texas is huge and still has more than 150 rural hospitals. But factors like declining volume, demographics (rural populations are generally older, poorer, sicker and less educated — not a recipe for success), leadership and policy are also in play.
At least one out of every three patients who visit an emergency room does not have a true emergency. As a result, ERs become overcrowded, physicians have difficulty seeing patients with real emergencies quickly, and hospitals can become so clogged that ambulances must be diverted, potentially leading to deaths. Moreover, unnecessary overuse of the ER is a contributor to soaring health care costs.
Texas Republican primary voters have a clear message for policymakers: They support vaccines and the power to prevent disease before it starts. Just like most Texans — regardless of political belief — they believe in vaccines.
Our politicians are content to blame gun violence on problems that they claim don’t have solutions. They say it’s a matter of bad people doing bad things. If that’s true, red flag laws would help. They say it’s a mental health issue. If that’s true, red flag laws would help. It appears that our lawmakers would rather protect guns than the lives of their constituents.
The 2018 midterms are right around the corner. It’s time for every elected lawmaker in Texas to choose a side: Will they stand with women and families or will they stand with in the way of our health and freedom? It’s an easy decision really. Choose families. Choose life.
Under its new state law, for DNR orders to be valid, Texas now compels any capacitated patient without an Advance Directive to first document their request in writing. In order to die without CPR in a Texas hospital, you must literally complete your paperwork.
Many students seek help in college only when somebody tells them to. The majority of referrals to college counseling centers, tutoring/academic coaching and financial support come from family members, friends and professors. So, talk to your family about stress and coping before classes even start and make plans to ask for help immediately when you need it.
Among the many abuses the president’s immigration policies represent, the recent actions of his administration have amounted to an American endorsement of gender-based violence against immigrant women and girls.
Vaccinations are not just for kids. They are important for adults too; they prevent adults from getting certain diseases and they help stop the spread of illness. Every adult should check with a health care provider to find out which vaccines, in addition to the flu, that they should get.
My hope for the Texas medical cannabis program is that the state is able to collect data around how patients and their physicians are utilizing this program. Objective evidence will show that having this treatment option benefits qualifying patients and strengthens the relationship between patients and physicians, and that the regulated program is a worthy endeavor.
Instead of focusing almost singularly on weakening the Affordable Care Act, Congress should focus on things that will help Americans live healthier lives; lowering prescription drug prices and increasing access to safe, affordable medication would be a great start.
Women, as well as medical school students, have been told for years that hormone replacement therapy is to be avoided. Period. Case closed. Very few have heard about the 2013 Sarell and Katz study that should have changed more minds by now. It’s past time for physicians, academics and the news media to right the wrongs of the past 16 years.
When Texans reach for a gallon of milk on the grocery shelf, they probably don’t wonder if it’s safe to drink — and with good reason. Pasteurized milk and other dairy products purchased in stores rarely pose danger of sickness from harmful bacteria.
As child welfare administrators try to enhance their efforts to provide more effective sex education to foster youth, it is critical that they seek to address the unique experiences, vulnerabilities, identities and resourcefulness of young people in care.
Given the opportunity to dramatically change the course of a young person’s life for the better, most people would pursue it. Unfortunately, many young people experiencing early episodes of psychosis in Texas aren’t able to access the treatment and care that could give them that opportunity.
Despite some recent confusion over the exact numbers, there is no question that pregnancy, delivery and the first year after giving birth are much too unhealthy for Texas women — especially Texas women of color.
Rescuing dogs at auction saves, at best, a tiny percentage of mill dogs. But every single dog we rescue from auction is a chance for us to tell the story about how these dogs are treated, and how they live. Until the public begins to ask questions about where their dogs come from, until they begin to understand how horrible these operations truly are, there will be no change.
Football is a dangerous game. When we played, my teammates and I took lot of hard hits — many to the head. At the time, we thought it was just the cost of playing the game. We were never told it was a problem, so we just accepted it.
Most of the existing approaches to prevention are school-based programs aimed at preventing sexual victimization by teaching children “the three R’s”— recognize, resist, report. While such programs have benefits, research has not yet found these programs to be effective in reducing rates of abuse.
A new study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that data coding errors in previous research misclassified a number of deceased women as pregnant, and therefore, the actual maternal mortality rate in Texas is less than half of what previous reports indicated.
All in all, a new Texas sex education law is an improvement over the old abstinence-only program, which was both factually incorrect and prevented participating schools from moving beyond merely saying “don't do it.” Texas, the state with the highest repeat teen pregnancy rate in the nation, should welcome this new law requiring “medically accurate and complete” sex-ed.
In recent weeks, state-licensed providers have opened for business under the state’s landmark Compassionate Use Act (Senate Bill 339), which allows qualified physicians to prescribe low-THC medical cannabis to patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Many Texans are wondering how to go about qualifying for and obtaining medical cannabis under this law.
If our state government truly intends to serve and protect the rights of all Texans, the state should end its baseless attack on the ACA and redirect its energy toward building on existing efforts to improve access to cost-effective health care for all Texans.
A food desert is described as an area without a grocery store within one mile. Popular mythology is that these areas are all low-income, high-crime communities. But there are other truths.
Congress is about to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act by putting the onus on disabled people file written notices of obstructing barriers to business owners. The law would be unfair because it restricts disabled people from enjoying the same rights as everyone else to go to a public place, by removing the business voluntary compliance incentive.
Young people need timely, medically accurate information and quality care. Crisis pregnancy centers should not be allowed to deceive patients, lie about medical facts or pretend to be real medical facilities, and they certainly shouldn’t receive state funds to do so.
People of all political stripes came together to stop polio in its tracks. In the past, Americans understood that critical life-saving tools like vaccines are a part of our national responsibility. Just as our soldiers are fully vaccinated before they go to war, we citizens on the home front have, in the past, done our part to protect the public health and national security.
It’s been six months since Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters receded, but the recovery needs of children and families along the Texas coast and in Greater Houston have not. Their worlds were turned upside down, with more than 1 million people displaced, over 200,000 homes damaged and more than 1,500 child care, early learning and education programs critically impacted.
Congratulations, Texas voters. Your grandmothers should be proud. You didn’t fall for the ridiculous lies, mailed to our homes in February, accusing incumbent Republicans in primary elections of somehow wanting to tax your grandmothers.
What if the state could adopt a program with a decades-long track record of containing health care cost growth to rates four times lower than national averages, while improving clients’ quality of care? While that may sound too good to be true, Texas was one of the first states to embrace this initiative, known as Medicaid managed care.
Taking basic services away from Texans who are working towards better lives isn’t a responsible way to deal with their economic problems, or our nation’s. Work requires fuel, and hunger never helped anyone find a job.
Many participants and fans accept gendered segregation without significant reflection. Yet the challenges presented by transgendered and intersex athletes serve as a reminder of how easily we confound the familiar with the necessary.
The First Amendment wasn’t designed to physically endanger people in need of care. This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court must reaffirm that understanding or risk the health of women across the country.
Deaths tied to prescription painkillers have started to decline in the state, but heroin overdoses and overall opioid-related fatalities are up. About 80 percent of heroin users report a history of having used prescription painkillers. And fentanyl is now entering the country illegally along with even more potent opioids.
Accessing emergency contraceptives is still a confusing and distressing process for many students, and its importance at critical moments makes expanding access and increasing privacy prudent. Thankfully, there is simple solution that UT can implement: access to EC through vending machine sales.
At a time when many politicians would like to cut critical health programs or create new hoops for Texans to jump through to stay eligible, Texas leaders should instead ensure that our state’s maternal health programs and policies meet the needs of women, babies, and the next generation of Texans.
Support for medical marijuana ranges across the political spectrum. It is long past time for Texas and the federal government to change the laws that make it illegal. It is time to answer the call of the people and make a real difference. It is time to legalize medical marijuana in Texas, and for the federal government to get out of the way.
My family moved from Texas to Oregon earlier this month. People have asked if we're moving to seek better care for my seven-year-old son, Charlie. The short answer is yes.
There are a multitude of ways to prevent sexual abuse among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and one way in particular stands out as being simple and highly effective: Texas must provide current, comprehensive sex education for people with IDD, beginning with the roughly 3,200 residents of the State Supported Living Centers.
Single payer is not the optimal route to progress but a path that would harm overlooked, small-town Americans who are desperate but unable to reach care. Instead of pursuing hyper-partisan legislation to mandate public coverage, Congress should seek insurance reforms with a bipartisan consensus, decreasing costs and increasing access to care.
Courts are in a unique position to help youth and adults move from illness to wellness, but for the promise of justice to be realized, we must take a closer look at how we see mental health and how we work together for meaningful improvement in the administration of justice for those affected by mental illness.
If Texas does more to fund and coordinate efforts among its health agencies, care providers, and healthcare advocates, we can make some progress on the HIV problem in Texas. We would all do well to anticipate the 30th World AIDS Day in 2018 with a sense of purpose instead of with a mere nod to history.
At a time when drugmakers are charging record prices for their products and jacking up prices on cancer drugs and other lifesaving treatments, 340B is one of the only consumer protection laws on the books. That’s why, in Texas, 141 hospitals participate in 340B and their patients benefit every day.
It’s high time we equip adolescent girls — particularly vulnerable and parenting youth — with the right to make decisions over their own bodies, just as they can for their own children. Adolescents can access contraceptive services without parental consent in 32 states, and an additional 14 states grant these rights to parenting teens, but not to all adolescents.
There’s no debate: CHIP saves lives. Consequently, when you jeopardize CHIP, you jeopardize kids’ lives. It’s time for Congress to reauthorize CHIP before Texas and other states start winding the program down and going down a path that may be impossible to reverse.
More than 450,000 children in Texas will lose their health care in early 2018 if Congress fails to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program. These are the children whose working parents are making too much money for Medicaid and too little to afford exorbitant private health insurance premiums.
The federal 340B program, which was created to help patients, has seen rapid growth and expansion, providing an economic boon for hospitals — which are not passing along the billions of dollars in discounts to poor and underserved patients.
The debate in Congress over whether to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been put aside, at least for now. It is time for our federal legislators to shift their focus to other pressing health care topics, providing the opportunity for progress and to work together across the aisle.
Ultimately, this law will disproportionately affect the poor and women of color in Texas. Those with resources and privilege can seek safe, timely and medically appropriate abortions outside our state borders, while women without such means will be left to deal with the risks imposed by the new law.
Religion, while often a powerful force for good in this world, has also been used as an excuse to suppress those who don’t agree with a particular set of beliefs. Those who stay silent as the government strips away the rights of our neighbors under the guise of religion — no matter if we agree with the ultimate policy or not — are on the wrong side of that history.
The more large players that enter and change the health care space, the more they bring about new competition and help reduce inefficiencies. I never thought I would be advocating for a top-down approach to help patients, but here we are.
So that’s what we’ll do now. We’ll honor Cathy with action — just the way she’d want us to. We will carry on and continue to fight weak gun laws with all the trademark passion and persistence we’ve exhibited in the past. But right now, let’s stop for a moment — and honor a Texas patriot.
These stories illuminate a larger effort by government entities, whether federal or state, to legitimize crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs — which function primarily to dissuade people from accessing abortion care — and tout them as actual health care providers.
A crucial component of helping my patients is guiding them toward realistic expectations so that we not only avoid disappointment but also prepare for the best possible outcome. When it comes to the healing potential of cannabis, I have been focused on figuring out what cannabis can do for people suffering from epilepsy rather than what it might be able to do.
Jane Doe is an unaccompanied minor, which means she came to the U.S. before turning 18 and without her parents. She is currently being detained, as is often the case with unaccompanied immigrant youth, in a government-funded shelter she is not permitted to leave. And federal officials, emboldened and empowered by the Trump administration, are doing everything in their power—legal or not—to stop her from getting an abortion.
In several areas — one in five of the counties served by Planned Parenthood — the organization is the only available option for some women, according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis. In these places, moving new health care providers there would cost time and money — but more importantly, it would be detrimental to their health and the health of the community.
The social media frenzy following Hurricane Harvey helped thousands of people reach needed aid. Just as we have helped our neighbors rebuild their homes, we must help rebuild the lives that are too often forgotten in Houston’s sex trafficking industry.
The vision statement for HHSC reads, “Making a difference in the lives of the people we serve.” As staff and leadership at the agency have been chosen for this time and place, focusing their talents on bringing that vision to life can bring miraculous change to tens of thousands in need.
Research shows that mosquito-borne diseases spike within 18 months after hurricanes. Following Hurricane Katrina, cases of West Nile virus increased considerably in affected regions of Louisiana and Mississippi.
The deaf community is not just a group of people with a shared trait and similar life experiences. It is a culture in and of itself, one that is too often ignored and widely misunderstood, which is why deaf standups are probably not on your radar — or why you may have ideas about the deaf community that simply aren’t true.
To be a woman in Texas is to have your autonomy, your health and your well-being constantly under attack by the so-called leaders entrusted with serving you. Extreme politicians love to proclaim a concern for women when they are promoting more bills to restrict access to abortion, while bypassing opportunities to truly serve their best interests.
Now, more than ever, a lifeline is needed for those inside and outside of flood zones, and it already exists: Family Support Home Visiting programs.
Many conservatives are against comprehensive sex education, noting the skyrocketing rates of teen pregnancies in the early 60’s and believing that teaching contraceptive use gives teens mixed messages. Liberals, on the other hand, urge that education is the key to reducing teen pregnancy and disease. Surely there is ground where both sides can meet for respectful dialog.
It was no small task: the Texas child welfare system is incredibly complex, meshing public and private resources into a safety net that events of the past few years have shown to be riddled with dangerous holes. The 85th Texas Legislature leveraged a key resource in closing these gaps by further investing in children’s advocacy centers.
The stakes are much higher than they were seven years ago when Obamacare was enacted. Since then, healthcare expenses have increased at more than twice the rate of wages. Americans need Congress to fix healthcare now more than ever before.
The first hurdle for any transgender child or adolescent is helping people understand that they are who they say they are, who they know themselves to be — and that they are capable of knowing that even at ages as young as pre-school.
I've listened with particular interest to media reports regarding the “bathroom bill.” I must admit that, even as a social and political conservative, I think the specific bill may be ineffective. However, the issue of transgenderism, and even homosexuality, and bathrooms is much more complex than I typically hear reported by any media outlet.
SNAP was designed as an income support, not a jobs program. That’s reasonable when one considers that most SNAP participants are children, seniors or people with disabilities; and that the majority of SNAP recipients who can work already do — just not at jobs that let them escape poverty.
Unfortunately it takes a controversy like restoring cuts to the state’s acute therapy program to bring to light the negative effects of rapid growth in government healthcare programs and our failure to reform them. These factors are hurting Texas’ ability to care for the most vulnerable in our state.
If gender dysphoria, however, generates other medical problems like depression, then these should be insured in the same way that the sex-related problems of cisgender people are treated. In other words, medical care should be dispensed to transgender people in the same way that it is dispensed to non-transgender people.
As the state legislative sessions of 2017 illustrate, attacks on access to sexual and reproductive healthcare continued across the country despite the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In the revolution for reproductive justice, the ruling represents a well-deserved but incomplete victory.
The truth is simple: Politicians trying to restrict LGBT rights and abortion access tell lies to push their agenda. Then they turn those lies into laws that actively hurt our communities. That’s exactly what Texas lawmakers are trying to do in this special session, where they plan to pursue both a “bathroom bill” and more measures restricting abortion access.
Texas has seen some important abortion policy changes in recent years. The Texas Legislature voted to remove Planned Parenthood from the state family planning program in 2011. Additionally, after new abortion clinic regulations were signed into law in 2013, a significant number of abortion facilities in Texas closed.
The revised BCRA is basically the same harmful bill with financial incentives for states like Alaska. Simply capping the amount the Feds pay into Medicaid doesn’t solve the problem — it just dumps costs on the states and on county taxpayers. And the amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is an awkward mixture of proposals that either can’t work or don’t help.
Health care is a deeply personal issue, and the passion reflected by that is evident on all sides of the debate. But one thing is clear: doing nothing to stop Obamacare from continuing to hurt millions of families in Texas and around the country is simply not an option.
In yearly surveys, members of the National Federation of Independent Business say their number one priority is healthcare, but the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has made things more difficult for them. Its onerous taxes and mandates have increased costs and reduced choices.
Over the last several months, our national health system leaders have talked with members of Congress and their staffs to communicate these three principles and to encourage them to craft legislation that achieves them. Unfortunately, the discussion draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) released by Senate leaders last week falls short.
The current proposal in the U.S. Senate would lay a devastating blow to Medicaid and people like my daughter. Her future and dignity are at the mercy and thoughtfulness of our elected officials.
I haven’t really spent much time tracking legislation before; I guess I’ve never really had to. But I started paying attention to what y’all were doing down in Austin the year that I finally accepted that my child was transgender. And what I found, Speaker Straus, is that there was an awful lot happening under that pink dome that could quite possibly kill him.
As a gay child in the foster care system, I spent my childhood in facilities like that. My Child Protective Services caseworker told me at one point that I could either “keep being gay or straighten up” if I wanted to be placed with a foster family.
We know kids ask questions. Sometimes as adults we feel inadequate to answer those questions or uncomfortable to explore them. So we shut the questions down. We tell kids their questions are inappropriate, rude or shouldn’t be asked. The questions never go away — they just go unasked. Children with unanswered questions eventually become adults with the wrong answers.
It’s impossible to get information on whether your child’s school has a vaccination rate far below safe levels, even if you’ve got a child who can’t be vaccinated because they’re undergoing chemotherapy or taking immunosuppressive drugs for other medical conditions.
When the Affordable Care Act passed, I felt enormous relief. My experience with the ACA hasn’t been perfect: I’ve had to change plans twice and the costs have risen each year. However, even though my income has been too high to receive tax credits towards premiums, the ACA has felt life-changing in that it has given me true economic freedom. I can pursue my best career path while still being assured of coverage for any health issue that may arise.
In Texas, we have more teen parents than any other state, with half a million teen births in the last decade alone. Clearly, we need to have a talk with our young people — and not just our girls.
You would think legislators would jump at the chance to get funding back to a nursing home industry that everyone seems to agree is badly underfunded and needs to improve, especially with a program that would not add to state spending.
Many state politicians spent the better part of the 140-day legislative session robbing Texans of our most basic human rights, including access to safe abortion care — showing complete disregard for court rulings, medical science and people who need abortion care.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.