Becca Aaronson News Apps Developer

Becca Aaronson develops news applications and works on special investigative projects for The Texas Tribune. As a native of Austin with a bachelor’s degree in cultural theory from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., Becca joined the Tribune in 2010 with a passion for building a new media model that promotes civic engagement. She was promoted in 2012 to cover health care for the Tribune, during which time she was nationally recognized for her coverage of women’s health and abortion politics. A founding member of the Tribune’s news apps team, Becca left the health care beat in 2014 to work on news apps full-time.

Recent Contributions

Texas Cancels Medicaid Contract, Sues Xerox Over Allegedly Misspent Money

Dr. Behzad Nazari at his remaining dental clinic in Houston on Friday, April 25, 2014. Nazari sold two of three Antoine Dental clinics after the state began withholding Medicaid payments while they investigated the clinics for fraud.
Dr. Behzad Nazari at his remaining dental clinic in Houston on Friday, April 25, 2014. Nazari sold two of three Antoine Dental clinics after the state began withholding Medicaid payments while they investigated the clinics for fraud.

Health officials canceled a multi-million-dollar contract with Xerox, and the state sued the contractor on Friday amid allegations it erroneously doled out hundreds of millions of dollars for medically unnecessary Medicaid claims.

When is a State Contract Too Big to Fail?

Dr. Behzad Nazari at his remaining dental clinic in Houston on Friday, April 25, 2014. Nazari sold two of three Antoine Dental clinics after the state began withholding Medicaid payments while they investigated the clinics for fraud.
Dr. Behzad Nazari at his remaining dental clinic in Houston on Friday, April 25, 2014. Nazari sold two of three Antoine Dental clinics after the state began withholding Medicaid payments while they investigated the clinics for fraud.

While health officials have repeatedly raised concerns with a state contractor for its role in opening the door to a massive Medicaid fraud scheme, they have not severed its multiyear contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Company That OK'd Unnecessary Braces Kept Its Contract

Dr. Behzad Nazari at his remaining dental clinic in Houston Friday, April 25, 2014. Nazari operated 3 clinics in Houston with 15 licensed dentists. After the state alleged he had committed Medicaid fraud and began withholding payments, he sold two clinics. He has challenged the state's payment hold in court.
Dr. Behzad Nazari at his remaining dental clinic in Houston Friday, April 25, 2014. Nazari operated 3 clinics in Houston with 15 licensed dentists. After the state alleged he had committed Medicaid fraud and began withholding payments, he sold two clinics. He has challenged the state's payment hold in court.

While dental providers accused of overbilling Texas' Medicaid program by hundreds of millions of dollars remain in legal limbo, the contractor that approved the procedures is still being paid more than $100 million annually by the state.

Medicaid Fraud Settlement Worries Health Providers

Helen Hawkins, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, treats 13-month-old Kevin Gorostieta at Carousel Pediatrics in Austin on Nov. 8, 2012.
Helen Hawkins, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, treats 13-month-old Kevin Gorostieta at Carousel Pediatrics in Austin on Nov. 8, 2012.

For providers who treat the state’s poorest patients, a settlement between the state and a Medicaid provider raises questions about how the state distinguishes fraudulent intent from human error.

Abortion Provider Shutters McAllen and Beaumont Clinics

Hallways like this one at Whole Woman's Health will have to be widened as part of the new legislation for abortion clinics to become ASCs.
Hallways like this one at Whole Woman's Health will have to be widened as part of the new legislation for abortion clinics to become ASCs.

Whole Woman's Health announced late Wednesday that it is closing two abortion clinics — one in the Rio Grande Valley and another in Beaumont — as a result of strict abortion regulations passed by the Legislature last year.

 

Anti-Abortion Candidates Saw Strong Primary Returns

Sen. Bob Deuell, far left, and state Rep. Sarah Davis, center right, have been targeted by Texas Right to Life. Agriculture commissioner candidate Sid Miller, center left, and comptroller candidate Glenn Hegar, right, both heavily promoted their anti-abortion stance on the campaign trail.
Sen. Bob Deuell, far left, and state Rep. Sarah Davis, center right, have been targeted by Texas Right to Life. Agriculture commissioner candidate Sid Miller, center left, and comptroller candidate Glenn Hegar, right, both heavily promoted their anti-abortion stance on the campaign trail.

In statewide races, Republicans who touted their stance against abortion — even when the offices they sought had little to do with the issue — saw strong primary night returns on Tuesday. 

 

Data Effort Aims to Help Reduce Child Deaths

John Specia (left), the commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek testify Feb. 20, 2014, at a Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing.
John Specia (left), the commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek testify Feb. 20, 2014, at a Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing.

The Department of Family and Protective Services has ramped up its efforts to conduct predictive data analysis and reduce the high turnover of CPS caseworkers, the agency’s commissioner told a panel of senators on Thursday.