Tag Archives: texas

Oral arguments and legal drama in the Texas v. United States ACA case

On Tuesday, July 9, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the appeal of Texas v. United States.

The conventional wisdom, even among conservative legal scholars, is that the case was based on such a contorted legal theory that it should not be taken all that seriously.

Then, in December, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with Texas and 17 other conservative states and declared the whole Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Continue reading

Pain, profit and accountability in Medicaid managed care

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning NewsA mobility and orientation specialist slowly moves an amber rope light above D’ashon Morris’ eyes during a visual stimulation therapy appointment at his Mesquite, Texas home on March 6, 2018.

A powerhouse series on patient harm under Texas’s Medicaid Managed Care program won the Shorenstein Center’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and was recognized with an AHCJ award.  We’ve posted a “How I Did It” piece by the Dallas Morning News reporters, David McSwane and Andrew Chavez.

Their work showed the lack of oversight endangering about 4 million Texans, including about 720,000 who are medically fragile – both adults and children, including some in foster care. Continue reading

Study of decade of data backs argument for community water fluoridation

Photo: Jonathan Cohen via Flickr

Children living in counties with fluoridated water have significantly less tooth decay than those living in counties that lack water fluoridation programs, according to a newly published large-scale study.

Reduced decay rates were most pronounced in the primary teeth of children living in fluoridated counties. Yet community water fluoridation (CWF) also was credited with conferring a meaningful level of protection to the permanent teeth of children and adolescents. Continue reading

Reporting uncovered one of Texas’ largest Medicaid scandals



The tip about troubles in Texas’ Medicaid dental system was part of a routine conversation. But it was enough to make reporter Byron Harris start digging.

He and his colleagues at WFAA-Dallas spent nine months scrutinizing data, wearing out shoe leather, following up on leads and trying to get people to talk.

In  2011, the “Crooked Teeth” stories raised profoundly troubling questions about oversight of the Medicaid dental program in Texas; the millions upon millions spent on orthodontic services for beneficiaries; the suspect billing practices of many providers. The 11-part investigative series uncovered one of the largest Medicaid scandals in the history of Texas. Government audits, reform efforts and lawsuits followed in its wake.

Harris continues reporting on the issue. He recently filed another story after federal officials concluded that the state owes $133 million for unnecessary dental work. “Texas paid $191,410,707 for unallowable orthodontic services from 2008 through 2010, according to a federal investigation,” Harris told viewers on June 3. “And officials say the federal government now wants a large portion of that money back.”

In this “How I Did It” article, Harris takes us back to the very beginning of “Crooked Teeth.” He explains how the project began, and how it unfolded. He also shares some wisdom on how to use data to follow up on a tip.

Texas poses challenges for insurance enrollment under ACA

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Image by Talk Radio News Service via flickr.Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Few states have been as hostile to the Affordable Care Act as Texas under Gov. Rick Perry. And, with its 6.3 million uninsured people, few states are as important to its success.

So how do people learn about coverage options and get enrolled? Here are two good stories that explore that. 

In this overview, Shefali Luthra of the Texas Tribune reports that the state government is proudly doing just about nothing to educate people. And it’s not expanding Medicaid so that keeps the poorest people from tapping into coverage that would have been available. She writes:

“In response to questions about publicizing the exchange, Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, wrote in an email that the state was ‘not interested in implementing Obamacare, including the exchange.’”

Continue reading