The Brief: Texas Political News for Dec. 13, 2013

The Big Conversation

New numbers suggest the state is having a hard time — at least initially — maintaining the same level of women's health services under its new purely state-funded program as the mostly federally funded program that preceded it.

The Texas Tribune's Becca Aaronson reports this morning that "During the first six months of 2013, there were 38 percent fewer reimbursement claims for birth control than there were during the first six months of 2012, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of data provided by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The number of wellness exams, meanwhile, decreased by 23 percent. Program enrollment figures have also declined, down from 127,000 in January 2012 to 110,900 in May, the most recent month available."

The difference between the two programs is that Texas kicked roughly 40 Planned Parenthood clinics out of the state program. Cecile Richardspresident of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “Despite all the promises from state officials that women’s health care needs would be met, it’s clear they aren’t.”

HHS Commissioner Kyle Janek argues the numbers are "misleading" because the new providers distribute birth control differently from the family planning clinic setttings that are common to Planned Parenthood. He also said that increasing reimbursement rates on some long lasting birth control methods like IUDs and hormonal implants should help boost the numbers there.

 

Culled

•    Texas Lt. Gov. Hopefuls Voice Support For Creationism (The Texas Tribune): "Three out of four Republican candidates for Texas lieutenant governor said creationism should be taught in the state's public schools at a debate in Waco Thursday evening. All four men in the race said religion should play a larger role in public education when asked where they stood on the issue during the event hosted by the McClennan County Republican Party and broadcast by KCEN-TV."

•    UT’s Powers gets a lecture but keeps his job (Austin American-Statesman): "University of Texas President Bill Powers didn’t get fired Thursday by the Board of Regents. Nor did he get a vote of confidence. Instead, Powers got a public dressing-down from UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, with instructions to improve trust, respect and communication in his dealings with regents and other system officials. The board took no action, and Powers gets to keep his job."

•    Historic vote in Mexico could have benefits here (Houston Chronicle): "If it survives remaining hurdles, as appears likely, the overhaul could open opportunities in Mexico for integrated oil giants and independent producers with major operations in Houston. ... And oil field service companies including Halliburton and Schlumberger, which have had contracts in Mexico for decades, stand to get more work if new investment spurs exploration south of the border."

•    Ex-Chan aide subject of investigation into sale of city database (San Antonio Express-News): "Former District 9 council aide Roger L. Legrand, who handled communications for then-Councilwoman Elisa Chan, is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations he sold a city-owned email database to a Republican activist. ... After Chan resigned from the City Council to run for Senate District 25, Legrand went to work for the political consulting firm hired to run her campaign. As of Thursday, he no longer was working for the consulting firm."

•    Ted Cruz opposes budget deal (Politico): "Ted Cruz broke days of silence on the bipartisan budget agreement Thursday, releasing a highly critical statement shortly before the House was set to vote on it. The Texas Republican senator said that he can’t support legislation forged by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) because it 'moves in the wrong direction.' One of his main problems with the agreement: it will fund President Barack Obama’s health care law."

Quote to Note: "Our students ... must really be confused. They go to Sunday School on Sunday and then they go into school on Monday and we tell them they can't talk about God. I'm sick and tired of a minority in our country who want us to turn our back on God." — Dan Patrick, arguing in favor of teaching creationism at a lite guv candidate forum in Waco on Thursday

Must-Read

 

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