Affordable Care Act
Jan 21st - 4:35 pm
People tasked with helping Texans sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will now have to undergo an additional 20 hours of training. The Texas Department of Insurance announced the new regulations Tuesday. The training will be in addition to the 20-30 hours of already mandated by the federal government.
In September, Gov. Rick Perry directed the department to create state-specific rules for navigators. Perry initially asked for an additional 40 hours of coursework. He also wanted require applicants to show proof of citizenship and submit to fingerprinting and periodic background checks. The changes announced today fall short of Perry’s directive.
Opponents to the changes have argued that additional state regulations would be cost prohibitive and would affect nonprofits’ ability to help people sign up for health insurance.
Rep. Lon Burnam was among those opposed to the changes. In a statement Tuesday, Burnam said the TDI took a scaled-back approach after his office threatened to release documents that showed the original proposal was made for political, not public health reasons. “We shouldn’t play political games with people’s healthcare,” Burnam said. “There was no justification for the original proposal other than conservative politics, so I’m glad TDI has relented and come up with training requirements that are at least somewhat logical.”
Navigators must now complete the additional training by May 1. The deadline to sign up for health insurance and avoid paying a penalty is March 31st.
Jan 13th - 8:36 pm
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how fundraising totals will affect the governor’s race.
It’s a crowded field for Republicans running for agriculture commissioner. Former state Rep. Tommy Merritt joined us to explain what separates him from the herd.
HEALTH CARE DISHARMONY
The Obama administration is touting new enrollment numbers as proof that the federal online exchange has moved beyond its rocky start. But what about those who still aren’t signing up? We spoke to one local musician who says the law doesn’t add up for him.
Jan 6th - 8:31 pm
Meanwhile, a three-judge panel in New Orleans heard one last round of arguments over the merits of a controversial abortion law. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide on the law’s constitutionality after Planned Parenthood and other groups filed a lawsuit late last year.
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where both laws stand in Texas.
LETTER OF THE LAW
Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Rep. Donna Howard wrote a letter to the Texas Department of Insurance detailing her concerns with the proposed restrictions. We spoke one-on-one with Rep. Howard about that issue and more.
In Washington, lawmakers got back to work after a long break. We checked in on their efforts to revisit a vote on unemployment insurance and more.
Jan 3rd - 7:12 pm
In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at some of the other deadlines ahead and talked to those who now have coverage.
It’s Gov. Rick Perry’s last year as governor of Texas. Will he continue to have an impact in the state, or at a national level? Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News, Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report and Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune joined us to weigh in on that question and more.
POLITICS & RELIGION
There’s another development in the mounting legal battle over the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers include contraception coverage in their insurance plans. The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it does not want the Supreme Court to exempt religious groups from the contraception mandate. We checked in on the latest on that story from Washington.
Dec 19th - 8:27 pm
The Obama administration is releasing more details about the Affordable Care Act. Out of the more than 4 million people who had their plans canceled because they didn’t meet the new requirements, fewer than half a million failed to find other coverage.
The news comes along with a renewed strategy to push back against another Republican-led repeal effort. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how the White House’s new strategy is going over in Texas, plus we continue our series on the Texas shale boom.
THE POPE AND POLITICS
It’s the year of the Pope, at least according to Time magazine. At the same time, the supreme court is set to take up the issue of contraceptive coverage. How does the renewed attention on the Catholic church translate to policy in Texas? We spoke to Jeffery Patterson of the Texas Catholic Conference to find out.
An Austin man now owns the one millionth Texas Capitol holiday ornament. The winning online bid raised thousands of dollars for education and preservation projects on the Capitol grounds. We met up with the winner, who talked about why he fought hard to keep the costly trinket in Texas.
Dec 17th - 7:34 pm
For the first time, Medicare is ranking how well hospitals perform hip and knee replacement surgeries.
The Affordable Care Act lays out financial incentives for doctors and hospitals to provide better care, and the newly released “best and worst” list is part of that larger effort.
Kaiser Health News explains how the list was compiled:
It evaluated how often a hospital’s patients ended up being readmitted within 30 days of discharge. It also looked at how often patients suffered a serious complication after the operation, such as a blood clot, infection, problem with the artificial joint or death.
While Medicare rated most hospitals as average, it identified 95 hospitals with rates that were higher than the national average in one of the two categories, and 97 hospitals with rates that were lower than average. Those outlier hospitals are listed in the sortable table below. A dash (—) indicates the hospital had average performance for that indicator.
Close to a million people get hip or knee replacements each year. Here’s how hospitals in Texas fared:
|Baptist St Anthony’s Hospital||Amarillo||TX||—||Worse|
|Christus Santa Rosa Hospital||San Antonio||TX||Better||—|
|Christus St Michael Health System||Texarkana||TX||Worse||—|
|Covenant Medical Center||Lubbock||TX||—||Better|
|Doctors Hospital At Renaissance||Edinburg||TX||—||Better|
|Grace Medical Center||Lubbock||TX||Better||—|
|Houston Orthopedic And Spine Hospital||Bellaire||TX||—||Worse|
|Peterson Regional Medical Center||Kerrville||TX||Worse||Worse|
|Plaza Medical Center Of Fort Worth||Fort Worth||TX||—||Better|
|Quail Creek Surgical Hospital||Amarillo||TX||—||Better|
|Seton Medical Center Austin||Austin||TX||—||Better|
|Shannon Medical Center||San Angelo||TX||Worse||Worse|
|St Joseph Regional Health Center||Bryan||TX||Worse||—|
|Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas||Dallas||TX||—||Better|
|Vhs Harlingen Hospital Company Llc||Harlingen||TX||Better||Better|
|Woodland Heights Medical Center||Lufkin||TX||Worse||—|
Click here for the full list.
It seems hospitals, upon close inspection, don’t always live up to their reputations.
Dec 3rd - 8:12 pm
In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where the candidates stand on the issue, and what they’ve said in the past.
The White House is reporting over a million people visited the healthcare.gov website Monday, on the first full business day after a series of repairs. Government officials now say the federal online health insurance exchange is now functioning 90 percent of the time.
We spoke with Mimi Garcia of Enroll America about their efforts to get the word out about health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act in states like Texas, where the federally created website is the only one available.
Plus, our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to look at what’s next for the Affordable Care Act and how Republicans and Democrats will position themselves around the law.
Dec 2nd - 8:11 pm
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at whether the changes are noticeable in Texas, where a number of groups are working to get people enrolled and get the word out.
ON THE AGENDA
The campaign filing deadline is one week away, and it could mean some last-minute scrambling for a few candidates. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to explain why.
Plus, we sat down with Republican gubernatorial candidate Miriam Martinez. Click the image below to hear about Martinez’s unique background and her thoughts on immigration reform, the Republican party and more.
Nov 26th - 7:48 pm
In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to advocates for both sides of the issue, who say the outcome will go far beyond any one company.
Libertarian candidate for governor, Kathie Glass, joined us to share her political vision beyond the two-party system, including why property taxes should be one of the first things on the chopping block.
NEW DEADLINE LOOMS
When Congress returns to Washington after the Thanksgiving break, budget negotiators will have to scramble to strike a deal to avoid yet another round of steep, automatic spending cuts.
Nov 13th - 8:03 pm
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the Fisher v. University of Texas case yet again, following a U.S, Supreme Court decision to remand the case. Fisher, a white Texan, sued the University of Texas at Austin when she was denied admission back in 2008. But even after the lengthy legal process, UT Austin President Bill Powers says he’s cautiously optimistic.
And in Washington, House Speaker John Boehner is putting the final nail in the coffin of immigration reform — at least until the new year. The Senate already passed a comprehensive bill that includes tighter border security and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents, but Boehner is making it clear that any hope that the Republican-led House might do the same is dead.