Health and Human Services

Capital Tonight: Taking a closer look at Texas enrollment numbers

With just days left to start enrolling, the eyes of federal health officials are on Texas. In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is making one last push in Austin, and why the state is so important for the law’s success.


Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News and Erica Grieder of Texas Monthly joined us to talk about the week’s biggest takeaways, from a significant ruling on abortion law to a continued fight over fair pay legislation.


Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas joined us to take a closer look at one claim about the cost of a health care plan in Texas, along with a surprising take on Senator Ted Cruz’s travel history.

Capital Tonight: Medicaid, payday lending bills threatened by looming deadlines

The odds for Medicaid expansion are shrinking.

Wednesday, House Democrats held a last-minute press conference to say that any chance of expanding the program under the Affordable Care Act is nearly dead.

Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers are scrambling to get support for a statewide law regulating payday lenders. Rep. Mike Villarreal joined us to talk about his effort to keep the measure alive.

Charter School Rally

The number of charter schools in Texas could drastically increase if legislation continues to move forward this session. Republican Sen. Dan Patrick spoke to hundreds of parents, teachers and students at a rally outside the Capitol Wednesday, vowing he’ll do everything he can to see the state pass its first major charter school bill since 2001.

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about that issue and more. Click the logo below to watch the full episode.

Inside Out

Several deadlines are looming that could doom the chances of any bill not already scheduled for a House or Senate floor debate. We spoke with former Democratic State Senator Hector Uribe and former Republican State Representative Aaron Peña about the pressure that process brings.


Dems announce grim outlook for Medicaid expansion

House Democrats called a last-minute press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce that if Medicaid expansion isn’t quite dead, it’s certainly on life support.

Yesterday, Republican Rep. John Zerwas conceded that his “Texas solution” to draw down federal money under the Affordable Care Act remains stuck in the House Calendars Committee, with little chance of escape. Any bill the committee hasn’t assigned to a hearing on the House floor by midnight Thursday is unlikely to get a vote.

 Rep. Sylvester Turner has proposed a different plan to expand Medicaid, which faces a similar fate.

“Unless we know some way to resurrect the dead, it won’t be resurrected this session,” Rep. Turner said.

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Capital Tonight: Political family legacy

In his first speech since announcing his candidacy for Texas Land Commissioner, George P. Bush played it safe, touting Texas exceptionalism and support for military veterans, among other topics.

Reporter Roundtable

Emily Ramshaw from the Texas Tribune, Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report, and Colin Pope from the Austin Business Journal sat down to discuss this week’s events in politics, including Gov. Rick Perry’s discussion with the Shark Tank about his intentions to run for governor.

Federal Funds

Democratic Rep. Elliott Naishtat sat down with Paul Brown to give an update on the possibility of Medicaid expansion in Texas. Naishtat also discussed a bill to extend health benefits to domestic partners at state university.


Capital Tonight: Distracted driving bill returns to House

A bill to ban texting while driving is back before lawmakers this session. Texting behind the wheel is illegal in 39 states, and many local ordinances already ban the practice, but it’s a statewide measure that couldn’t get past the Governor’s pen in 2011. Click the image at the bottom to hear more about why it might stand a chance this time around.

Battleground Texas

Joshua Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation discussed efforts to turn Texas into a swing state. Treviño also shared the strategy he would take if he were a Democrat.


Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Ted Delisi sat down with Paul Brown to discuss Gov. Chris Christie’s recent announcement that he would accept Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act. They also discussed Gov. Perry’s recent call to re-evaluate testing for Texas students.



Perry appoints new leadership at Health and Human Services Commission

Dr. Kyle Janek served in the legislature from 1995-2008. 
Photo courtesy: Senate Media Services

Gov. Perry announced Austin anesthesiologist and former state senator, Dr. Kyle Janek, will replace Tom Suehs as executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services. Perry also appointed Chris Traylor to serve as chief deputy commissioner.

"Texas, like the rest of the country, is headed into a period of the most significant changes in health care in our history,” Gov. Perry said in a press release. “This new leadership team, with Kyle and Chris at the helm, combines unparalleled experience and expertise to ensure Texans continue to have access to the health care they need while implementing fiscal policies that are mindful that it’s taxpayer money they are spending.”

Janek is currently the director of anesthesia services at Lakeway Regional Medical Center. He served in the Texas House and Senate from 1995 to 2008. He graduated from Texas A&M before heading to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Traylor has been commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services since 2010.