Affordable Care Act

Capital Tonight: Debating the merits of Proposition 6

While lawmakers in Washington took steps to end the government shutdown and avoid a default on debt, many in Texas stayed focused on water issues.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the latest from Washington, and looked at new information from water experts on where the drought stands.


In part three of our State of Water series, we held a roundtable discussion with critics and supporters of Proposition 6, which would appropriate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund into a new fund for water infrastructure projects.


Recent poll numbers show that voters are largely in favor of Proposition 6, but a lot hinges on whether or not they turn out in the first place. We sat down with James Henson of Texas Politics Project to dig deeper into the data.

Congress approves bill to reopen government, avoid default

With fewer than three hours left until a midnight deadline set by the U.S. Treasury Department, lawmakers in both chambers managed to pass a bill to reopen the government and avoid default on America’s debt.

The Senate passed the measure first Wednesday evening, by a vote of 81-18. House lawmakers followed suit a few hours later with a vote of 285-144.

The legislation ends a 16-day government shutdown prompted by Republican-led efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act. Once signed into law, it will keep the government open until Jan. 15 and postpone the next debt ceiling debate until Feb. 7. In one concession to Republican demands, the bill requires income verification for those who receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

The president has said he would sign the bill into law as soon as it comes to his desk.

Poll: Texans opposed to Affordable Care Act

Most Texans are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, but are likely to sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. According to a Texas Lyceum poll released today, 36 percent of people say they have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Obamacare. That is compared to 41 percent who have a somewhat or very unfavorable opinion of President’s Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Despite those numbers, a majority of uninsured Texans are likely to purchase health insurance from the federal exchange. The poll shows 57 percent of people are likely to purchase insurance through the marketplace, compared to 36 percent who would not. Open enrollment in the marketplace opened, this morning.



Capital Tonight: UT President addresses higher education challenges

Higher education was a major issue for lawmakers this past session, particularly for those who felt University of Texas President Bill Powers was being micromanaged by the UT Board of Regents.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke one-on-one with Powers himself. He talked about his goals for UT’s flagship campus, his hopes for the next legislative session and about working with the regents.


As one of the worst droughts in state history drags on, the state’s agriculture commissioner is urging Texans to take water conservation into their own hands. That means monitoring their water use and taking a serious look at Proposition 6. Commissioner Todd Staples, who is also running for lieutenant governor, admits neither will immediately solve the state’s water woes, but says it’s a good place to start.


The Senate is set to vote this week on a continuing resolution that would avoid a government shutdown on October 1. At issue is an attempt by some Republicans — led by Sen. Ted Cruz — to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Watson: Perry’s call for navigator requirements twists meaning of bill

Sen. Kirk Watson is pushing back against Gov. Rick Perry’s call for stricter requirements for insurance navigators, saying it distorts the meaning of his original bill and makes it more difficult for Texans to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“I authored Senate Bill 1795 to make it easier for Texans to get health insurance, not harder,” Watson said in a statement. “This is a tool to improve our healthcare system, not dismantle it even further.”

The federal government has distributed nearly $11 million to Texas groups to help train so-called navigators to guide people through the enrollment process. Yesterday, Gov. Perry sent a letter to Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber, directing the department to create state-specific rules for navigators. On top of federal requirements that include 20 to 30 hours of training and annual certification tests, Perry wants to require applicants to show proof of citizenship, take an additional 40 hours of coursework, submit to fingerprinting and periodic background checks.

Perry says TDI has the authority to make the changes under Senate Bill 1795, which was authored by Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson, who says the law was never intended to be used in such a way.

“It’s not clear to me that all of the Governor’s instructions are even allowed under this bill or other state or federal law,” Watson said. “He’s twisting the meaning of protecting consumers to fulfill a political agenda. This will hurt Texans who need healthcare far more than it helps him in some GOP primary.”

Capital Tonight: A bumpy road ahead for health care law

In just over two weeks, a key part of the Affordable Care Act comes online, but what does the insurance exchange mean for you? In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we wrapped up our series on Obamacare with a breakdown of the details that matter.


From enrollment drives to insurance navigators, there are a lot of moving parts to implementing the law in Texas, especially given the state’s hands-off approach. We spoke to Becca Aaronson of the Texas Tribuneand Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News to find out how the rollout is going so far.



Plus, Gardner Selby with PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to sort fact from fiction on three popular claims about Obamacare. 

Capital Tonight: Health care and the cost of doing business

Ready or not, the new health care law is going into effect soon, and business owners are studying the details. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we continued our series on the Affordable Care Act with a look at what it means for employers and workers in Texas.



To get more perspective from the business world, we spoke to the people who hear from business leaders every day. That includes Laura Hoke of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Austin Business Journal editor Colin Pope.


And in Washington, the battle over funding the bill continues. As our D.C. reporter Michael Scotto explains, Democrats are warning that divisions within the Republican party could bring the government to a halt at the end of the month.

Capital Tonight: Confronting the controversy over Obamacare

It may be the law of the land, but there’s still plenty of political debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act. In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we tackle the controversy head-on, from the back-and-forth over Medicaid expansion to the question of whether Congress should even fund the law at all.


The law known as Obamacare has spawned plenty of opinions, making it hard to focus on the actual impact. We spoke to Anne Dunkelberg of the Center for Public Policy Priorities and John Davidson with the Texas Public Policy Foundation about the research being looked at by both sides of the debate.


And it’s not the first time Texas has seen a flare-up over health care. TheQuorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us with an eye on the past.

Capital Tonight: Understanding the insurance marketplace

Starting January 1, the individual mandate takes effect, requiring all Americans to have health insurance. Open enrollment for those plans begins in just three weeks, and many here in Texas still don’t know what’s required of them or how to go about getting covered.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how groups are working to get people informed, and we spoke to Mimi Garcia, the state coordinator for Enroll America, about what the insurance marketplace will look like.


Meanwhile, the debate in Washington continues over whether the law known as Obamacare should be funded at all. Our Capital Commentators joined us to talk about the ongoing political debate surrounding health care reform.

Capital Tonight: Understanding the Affordable Care Act

Three years after President Barack Obama’s landmark heath care overhaul became law, major changes to coverage are on the horizon. Starting in January, all Americans will be required to have health insurance, but the process begins for many people on October 1, when open enrollment in the insurance marketplace will start.

While we know the broad strokes of the plan, many questions remain as to how exactly it will be implemented across the country. To get an idea about how the law will affect people in Texas, we spoke to experts at the county, state and local level.

Click the logo below to see part one of our weeklong series on the Afforable Care Act, with Stephanie Goodman of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Dr. Mark Hernandez of Travis County’s Community Care Collaborative and Texas Academy of Family Physicians CEO Tom Banning.