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Home | Tag Archives: texas health

Tag Archives: texas health

Foundation Investing $10 Million In Health Services in Texas

HOUSTON – Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the nation, according to census data. So one nonprofit is launching a big effort to try to get more Texans access to health services.

The Episcopal Health Foundation is investing $10 million in dozens of health programs in Texas. Brian Sasser, communications director with the foundation, says too many Texans suffer from health issues that should be preventable.

He says a major goal is to invest in preventive care along with treatments.

“The main point of these grants is not only to strengthen the systems of health,” says Sasser. “Meaning we get them in a system that takes care of all their wellbeing, not just one part of it. But also to become more accessible for people and more fair and equal for people.”

The grants range from about $130,000 to $1 million. They will fund homeless services, women’s health clinics, and groups working in low-income or minority communities. The grantees also include several programs that help people enroll in health insurance and follow up to make sure they receive care.

Sasser says the grants are meant to approach health from all angles. He says one grant program that does that well is CommUnity Care in Austin, where teams of professionals work together to address patients’ health issues.

“It does that both with medical procedures and with things outside of the doctor’s office like exercise and nutrition,” says Sasser. “And by working with the team together they’ve already shown improved health outcomes and it’s also led to substantially lower health care costs.”

Over the five year program, Sasser says the Episcopal Health Foundation hopes to see similar results around the state.

Author: Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service (TX)

Study: Health Disparities Among Minorities Cost Texas Billions

HOUSTON – The health disparity gap between whites and minorities is costing Texas more than $4.6 billion a year, according to a new report.

The study by the Episcopal Health Foundation and the Methodist Healthcare ministries of South Texas, found that poorer health among Hispanic and black Texans leads to higher health care spending, lower productivity and a dramatic number of years lost to premature death.

Shao-Chee Sim, vice president for applied research with the Episcopal Health Foundation, says the high number of uninsured in Texas is driving the costs.

“To a large extent, health disparities are attributable to the lack of health insurance coverage,” he states. “Texas is the state not only with the highest number, but also the highest rate of uninsured in the country. And blacks and Hispanics – especially Hispanics – do have a high uninsured rate.”

Sim says higher health care costs total $1.7 billion, while lost productivity takes about $3 billion out of the Texas economy. He says if you add in premature deaths, the impact is closer to $20 billion.

Sim points out the study shows that in Texas, people of color are more likely to be born into a cycle of poverty, which tends to exaggerate health disparities.

“This study is to quantify the economic impact of health disparities,” he states. “Texas is one of the fastest growing states. It’s about 43 percent whites, 40 percent Hispanics. Texas is, in fact, a minority-majority state.”

The report recommends a number of policy changes, including expanding Medicaid, designed to close the health-disparity gap and boost the Texas economy.

“As we think about crafting future health policies or related legislation, we should really take into account the increasing diversity in Texas,” Sim stresses. “We need to address it accordingly.”

The state’s population is projected to grow by about 45 percent over the next 25 years, with Hispanics accounting for most of the increase.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)

New Texas Health Executive Will Oversee Abstinence, Abortion Programs

As part of a legislatively ordered restructuring of Texas health agencies, the state health commission has begun advertising for someone to fill a new executive job overseeing “women’s education services” — including abstinence education and counseling on alternatives to abortion. The position could pay six figures.

The new Director of Women’s Education Services would be part of the newly formed Women’s Education Services Unit, according to a job listing posted to the health agency’s website, responsible for overseeing three hot-button programs previously run by a sister agency — abstinence education, abortion alternatives and funding for judicial bypass proceedings for minors seeking abortion.

The health commission is “repurposing” a position to oversee the programs that came over from the Department of State Health Services, said Bryan Black, a spokesman for the health commission.

The position is being created as women’s health advocates increasingly question the state health agency’s approach to reproductive health. They point to delays in releasing abortion data and maternal mortality data, a hefty women’s health grant awarded to a group led by an anti-abortion advocate and the proposal of rules to require the cremation or burial of fetal remains.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said it was “disturbing” that state health officials intend to focus “their time and resources” on a director to oversee abstinence-based education, when studies have found abstinence education is ineffective.

“The general overall direction of [the health agency], particularly when it comes to reproductive health, should disturb anyone in the state,” Busby said.

The state’s Alternatives to Abortion program provides “pregnancy and parenting information” to low-income women. Under the program, the state contracts with the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, a nonprofit charity organization with a network of crisis pregnancy resource centers that provide counseling and adoption assistance. State lawmakers regularly fight over its funding.

Through the Abstinence Education Services program, the state contracts with local groups to promote abstinence from sexual activities among youths in hopes of lowering rates of teen pregnancy or births out of wedlock. Health officials recently added language to the requirements for groups applying for contracts under the program that would prohibit entities even loosely affiliated with abortion providers from receiving any funding.

The judicial bypass program appears to be related to reimbursement for attorneys who represent minors seeking judicial bypass, the legal process that allows minors to get court approval for an abortion if seeking permission from their parents could endanger them.

For more on women’s health and the Texas health commission:

Author:   – The Texas Tribune

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