Athens Review, Athens, Texas

In the News

December 20, 2013

Sebelius hopeful for Medicaid expansion in Texas

HOUSTON —

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday she remains hopeful Texas will expand Medicaid coverage as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

But Democratic lawmakers who joined Sebelius in Houston to promote the health care law's rollout said they expect Texas will continue to reject expansion and fight the law's implementation in general, including through a proposal for new rules for "navigators" — workers trained to walk people through the enrollment process for insurance.

"Texas has largest number of uninsured in the country," Sebelius said. "Absent Medicaid expansion, there will still be millions of Texans that will not have affordable options for themselves and their families."

The state's GOP-controlled Legislature opted not to create a state-run insurance marketplace, and Republican Gov. Rick Perry also declined to expand Medicaid to cover more of the working poor.

About 14,000 Texans enrolled for insurance coverage in October and November on the federal online exchange. Coverage under these new insurance policies was to begin Jan. 1. Texas has about 6 million people who are uninsured.

Sebelius said her agency intends to continue discussing Medicaid expansion with Texas leaders. But she did not specify if there are any ongoing efforts on that front.

"This is more empty rhetoric from the Obama Administration," said Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Perry, in a written statement. "The governor and Texas lawmakers have been clear that we are not interested in expanding Medicaid. If the secretary was interested in working with Texas, she would grant us the flexibility we need to implement meaningful reforms to our existing Medicaid program, rather than forcing more people into a failing system."

Perry directed the Texas Department of Insurance earlier this year to implement rules for navigators that he said would protect Texans, including requiring the workers to complete an additional 40 hours of state training, pass more exams and submit to regular background checks while on the job.

Some lawmakers and supporters of the Affordable Care Act have said the new rules for navigators are obstacles designed to fight the rollout of the health care law.

Dozens of supporters of the health care law and nonprofits trained to help Texans purchase coverage packed a state meeting room in Austin on Friday and urged the insurance department to reject additional navigator oversight.

The United Way of Tarrant County, which received a $5.8 million federal grant to build a navigator network, would potentially need another $145,000 to meet the additional state requirements, said Tim McKinney, the group's president and CEO.

Republican state Rep. Kenneth Sheets supports the new rules, saying additional oversight is needed to protect consumers from fraud while enrolling.

Sheets said he's not worried about the extra stress new requirements might put on navigators, who he says are currently unqualified and could act as political operatives.

The agency could make its decision on the proposed rules as early as Jan. 7. The rules are supposed to be in place by March 1.

"Texas has tried every way they can to hurt the expansion of people getting insurance," said U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston. "I don't understand why the state wouldn't want to have Texans covered by health insurance. But, then, that's the governor's decision."

 

1
Text Only
In the News
  • How states fared on unemployment benefit claims

    Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits increased slightly last week to a seasonally adjusted 304,000.

    April 17, 2014

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conjoined boys separated at chest to exit hospital

    The conditions of conjoined twins separated last summer have steadily improved, and officials say they'll be released this week from a Dallas hospital.

    April 14, 2014

  • Police: Utah mom admitted to killing her 6 babies

     Authorities say a Utah woman accused of killing six babies that she gave birth to over 10 years told investigators that she either strangled or suffocated the children and then put them inside boxes in her garage.

    April 14, 2014

  • Texas grand jury to be seated in Perry ethics case

     A Texas judge is expected to seat a grand jury in an investigation into whether Republican Gov. Rick Perry abused his power by vetoing funding for public corruption prosecutors.

    April 14, 2014

  • VIDEO: CBS taps Colbert as Letterman’s Late Show successor

    Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman reports that CBS has announced Stephen Colbert as its choice to replace the retiring David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” on Bloomberg Television’s “Lunch Money.”

     

    April 11, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Big win for college coach wrongly accused of child porn

    The ex-coach of Minnesota State University-Mankato - cleared on child porn charges - gets his old job back or could take the difference in pay should he decide to stay in a new position in North Dakota, an arbitrator has ruled. Todd Hoffner was accused when a technician found videos of his young children on his school-issued cellphone. Officials in Mankato fired him even though a judge had thrown out the charges.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mabank’s Cassiddy Petty takes first, second in Dairy Cattle

    Not many agriculture students travel to a county’s stockshow, and wins every place in their particular category.
    But, that’s what happened Wednesday night at the Henderson County Livestock Show with Cassiddy Petty, a senior at Mabank High School, and a member of the Chandler 4-H.

    April 10, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.25.07 AM.png VIDEO: Cement truck crashes into minivan

    A professor at Texas A&M University was fortunate to escape serious injury recently when a cement truck ran a red light at a College Station intersection and crashed head-on into his minivan. A dash camera that Dr. Guan Zhu had installed about a year ago captured the entire incident.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • BREAKING NEWS...Authorities investigate East Texas fatal shooting

     An East Texas shooting has left one person dead.

    April 10, 2014

Biz Marquee
AP Video