The Big Conversation:
With the Supreme Court's health care decision still echoing through Texas, a new report from the federal government has cast an unflattering light on the state's own health care system.
According to the report, released by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Texas ranks as the worst state in the nation on quality of health care.
The report measured obesity, infant mortality and suicide rates and examined more than 100 other areas like disease prevention and cancer treatment efforts. Out of 100 points, Texas — already often cited as the state with the highest rate of uninsured residents in the U.S. — received 31.61, less than half that of the top-ranked state, Minnesota, which earned 67.31.
The scorecard is, in part, intended to help states identify weaknesses in their own health care systems, but some Texas officials appeared reluctant to embrace the findings.
"Our office is reviewing the study, but at first glance it appears to be an extremely broad report that goes well beyond the parameters of the state Medicaid program and doesn't take into account our diverse population," Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said in a statement, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, also noted in a statement that the report appears to include services beyond the state's Medicaid program. "But it does reinforce the need for improving access to preventive services," she said.
It wasn't all bad news, though: The state fared well in maternal and child health care, for which it received a "strong" rating.
- As The New York Times reports, the Obama administration over the last five months has freed schools in more than half of the states in the nation from the strictest provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law, "raising the question of whether the decade-old federal program has been essentially nullified."
- An official vote count has confirmed Enrique Peña Nieto's victory in Sunday's Mexican presidential election. A partial recount of the votes completed late Thursday showed Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with more than 38 percent of the vote, ahead of Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the progressive alliance, who has refused to concede the election and has accused the PRI of buying votes.
- U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, has been cleared of wrongdoing in an investigation targeting legislators who received discounted home loans from Countrywide Financial Corp, according to The Dallas Morning News. Sessions applied for a mortgage from the now-defunct lender in 2007, but a report released Thursday said he received no preferential treatment.
- NAACP still growing, still fighting, Houston Chronicle
- Mineral Wells' flag 'ban' is misunderstanding spun by media, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Texas has lowest percentage of special education students; reasons are a mystery, The Associated Press
- Prosecutor Errors Haunt Long Exoneration Fight, The Texas Tribune
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