Archive for November, 2013

Fewer than 3,000 Texans enroll through health care exchange

After downplaying expectations for weeks, federal officials say fewer than 3,000 Texans were able to sign up for coverage in the health insurance marketplace in October. Nationwide, the total comes to just over 100,000 people.

The Department of Health and Human Services released the totals Wednesday afternoon, following a rocky start to the healthcare.gov enrollment website. Since its launch on October 1, the site has seen widespread technical issues. Federal officials have testified about the problems and say they’re working to fix them.

Enrollment through state-run websites — implemented by 14 states and Washington, D.C. — makes up three quarters of the total number. Texas is one of 36 states that opted not to create its own exchange website, meaning residents have to go through the federal marketplace.

 

Capital Tonight: UT’s counsel proceeds cautiously in regent investigation

The hearing to determine if a University of Texas System regent should be impeached took an unusual twist Tuesday. Regent Wallace Hall is accused of abusing his authority in an effort to oust University of Texas President Bill Powers. A committee of state lawmakers is considering several allegations, including whether Hall went too far in using the state’s open records laws to request thousands of pages of documents.

All three of the regents who were set to testify showed up voluntarily, but following a meeting Monday night, their counsel requested that lawmakers issue “friendly subpoenas” to protect their testimony from spurring new litigation.

NEW LEADERSHIP

From Voter ID to redistricting, the NAACP has been front and center in many key political battles in Texas. Now, the organization that focuses on protecting civil rights has a new leader, who hails from the Lone Star State.

We spoke one-on-one with the new national president of the NAACP, Lorraine Miller.

HOMEGROWN REFORM

With the country facing massive overcrowding in its federal prisons, members of Congress are taking up the issue of sentencing reform, and at least one of the proposed solutions is inspired by changes that started here in Texas.

Capital Tonight: Looking out for veterans beyond the battlefield

It’s a day to honor our veterans and to thank them for their service. But how are we helping our soldiers long-term?

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at one program meant to ease the transition to civilian life and possibly a new career path.

TEXAS’ EFFORTS

Texas has more than 1.6 million veterans, with more coming back every day. We sat down with Texas Veterans Commission Executive Director Thomas Palladino about what his agency is doing to make sure veterans get the resources they need.

ON THE AGENDA

And a new ad is putting Gov. Rick Perry’s name out once again. TheQuorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about the group behind the promotion and why it marks a significant transition.

Capital Tonight: Reassessing the strength of the Tea Party

The last election has many wondering if the Tea Party’s popularity is waning nationwide, but here in Texas, it appears to be stronger than ever.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where the movement is headed and what it means for the state’s senior senator.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

Governor Perry returned to the place where he launched his failed 2012 presidential bid.
Is he testing the waters in Iowa for yet another run? We talked to Jay Root of the Texas Tribune and Karen Brooks Harper of Reuters about what the trip really means.

CHECKING THE FACTS

And while fixes to the federal health care website continue, one lawmaker is raising new questions about its security. We went straight to the source code with Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman.

Capital Tonight: State’s role in flood recovery still uncertain

It’s been one week since floods swept through parts of Travis County, leaving hundreds of homes damaged. While flood victims in Southeast Austin work to rebuild, they’re also waiting to hear whether the state will lend a hand.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we look at what state officials are doing and where Gov. Rick Perry’s is while recovery efforts continue.

CORNYN’S CHALLENGE

Sen. John Cornyn can breathe a sign of relief, now that a potential challenger has decided not to run. But a new poll suggests he’s not out of the weeds yet. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to weigh in on that development and more.

NEW EDUCATION NUMBERS

A recently-released national report finds Texas in the bottom third in the nation in early childhood education. We talked to Frances Deviney with the Center for Public Policy Priorities about what the study means.

Capital Tonight: After the election, a long road ahead

The campaigning is over, the votes are cast and the results are in, but plenty of unknowns remain over two of the biggest decisions voters made at the polls.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to Texas Water Development Board Chairman Carlos Rubinstein about the work that remains now that funding is lined up for the state’s water plan, and we looked at the campaign ahead for Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle, the two candidates sent into a runoff election over House District 50.

PULSE OF POLITICS

Voting trends nationwide are raising concerns about the strength of the Tea Party, but the polls at home tell a different story. We sat down with James Henson of the Texas Politics Project for a look behind the numbers.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

And we talked to Democratic candidate Maria Luisa Alvarado about her latest bid for lieutenant governor.

Perry blasts Obama over call for Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Perry had some harsh words for President Barack Obama Wednesday. Obama traveled to Dallas to promote his landmark health care law and to urge the state to consider expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to Obama, doing so would potentially cover more than a million Texans who are currently uninsured.

“One of the things that gets me a little frustrated,” Obama said, “are folks who are complaining about how the website’s not working, and why isn’t Obama fixing it. And yet they’re leaving more than a million people right now without health insurance that they could immediately fix.”

Gov. Perry has maintained that Texas will not expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Instead, he requested a federal block grant that would allow Texas to make changes to the program without having to follow federal guidelines. Gov. Perry did not mince words in his response to the President’s request, saying:

“President Obama deceived the American people by promising that anyone who liked their health care plan could keep it, but millions of Americans are now discovering that simply isn’t true. Now, he’s coming to Texas in a desperate attempt to salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program from a Titanic fate by preaching expansion of the same Medicaid system he himself admits is broken. In Texas, where Medicaid already consumes a quarter of the state budget, we simply need the flexibility to implement fundamental, state-specific reforms to our Medicaid program, instead of a one-size-fits-all Washington mandate, before it bankrupts our state. Mr. President, Texans aren’t the reason Obamacare is crumbling; Obamacare is the reason Obamacare is crumbling.”

Texas is one of 21 states that declined to expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare. There were several bipartisan attempts last legislative session to come up with a Texas-specific version of expansion. None of those bills gained enough support to move forward.

Abbott responds to Obama visit in new web ad

Attorney General Greg Abbott released a new online ad Wednesday to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Dallas. In his ad, Abbott criticizes the administration over the troubled roll out of the Affordable Care Act and highlights Obama’s losses in the Lone Star State.

In a statement to accompany the ad, Abbott said, “Texans don’t need a half-billion-dollar website to find out that they don’t support ObamaCare, and we are not going to let this abusive, overreaching program sink its teeth too deeply into Texas.”

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured citizens in the country. Obama spoke in Dallas to promote the positive points of the Affordable Care Act and to urge Gov. Rick Perry to expand Medicaid.

Capital Tonight: Voters generous on statewide ballot measures

Voters approved all nine of the statewide ballot measures, including a proposal to jump-start the state’s water plan with $2 billion. Meanwhile, the race for House District 50 is down to two candidates — Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle — who will campaign against each other in a runoff election.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on election returns, plus we heard political analysis from Harold Cook and Ted Delisi.

2014 PREVIEW

Yet another poll on the Texas governor’s race came out Tuesday, but this one gives the Republican frontrunner more breathing room. We looked at the numbers, and got a preview of the 2014 national midterm elections from our DC bureau.

OUTSIDE AUSTIN

Plus, Houston saw a contentious election, but it wasn’t necessarily a candidate drawing all the attention.

New poll shows Abbott with 15-point lead over Davis

A potential matchup in the race for governor is looking less favorable for Sen. Wendy Davis this week.

New numbers from Public Policy Polling show Davis trailing Republican frontrunner Greg Abbott by 15 points, with 15 percent undecided. The poll assumes Abbott wins his party’s nomination for governor and that no one runs as an independent.

The PPP poll also posited a hypothetical three-candidate matchup, assuming that Debra Media dropped her bid for comptroller and ran for governor as an Independent instead. In that scenario, Abbott still commanded a 10-point lead, with Davis holding onto 37 percent and Medina grabbing 9 percent.

The PPP poll surveyed 500 voters by an automated phone interview and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Monday, a University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll showed Davis trailing by only six percent against Abbott in a head-to-head matchup, with that gap shrinking to five percentage points with Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass included in the race.