Health

Latest Columns

The struggles of negotiating with health insurers in Texas

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.

The problem of children having children

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.

A better place to build a wall

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.

Invest in better food — and build a better economy

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.

Answering the call for Texas’ children

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.

To help address foster care tragedies, better understand and listen to youth

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 case for banning powdered alcohol in Texas

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.

Texans suffer under continued attacks on women’s health funding

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.

What insurance companies aren’t telling you about FEC charges

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.

Saving children from the system meant to protect them

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.

Changing the conversation around abortion

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.

Texas and Medicaid: How big can you dream?

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.

Legislative action for young parents in foster care?

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.

Doctors dislike surprise medical billing, too

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.

Will ‘Pro-Life’ Bills Actually Save Lives?

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 has a smoking problem

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.

Texas' new frontier for HIV/AIDS

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.

A better way to fix health care

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 expansion? No way!

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."

What LifeWorks can say about the UT slaying suspect

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.

Abortion funds and activists are mobilizing for marginalized Texans

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.

Texas doesn't need Planned Parenthood

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.

Access delayed is access denied

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.

Lamar Smith’s lesson in congressional hypocrisy

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.

Space, the final health care frontier

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.

Why aren't we talking about health care?

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.

How Texas kicked its big drug problem

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.

Strike down Texas' new abortion rules

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.