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The State of Texas: Health Insurance Options Shrinking For Texans

Plus: Texas Olympian Jimmy Feigen gets indicted in Rio, big changes are coming to Texas prisons, and Selena gets a spot in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“We’ve been waiting for you all summer, and we’re so glad you’re finally here!”

—Maddie, Haley, and Jean-Marie during a recruitment video for the University of Texas’s Alpha Delta Pi. The introduction is ominous on its own as the three sorority sisters prepare to unveil what lies behind the mysterious black door with ornate gold knockers. One Twitter user appropriately described this place as the gate to hell, but what was behind these doors is far worse than even Dante’s disturbed mind could imagine. Watch the video below (shoutout to New York Magazine for unearthing this horror).


BIG NEWS


Surgeons operating at a hospital.
Surgeons operating at a hospital.

Christopher Furlong/Getty

Mass Exodus
At least five health insurance companies are either making moves to depart from Texas or have already bounced, including two this week alone, according to the Houston Chronicle. That’s put a lot of Texans in a pretty tough spot. This week, major Texas health insurance providers Aetna and Scott & White both announced they will no longer offer health insurance plans on the federal marketplace in Texas, joining United Health, which left in April. Meanwhile, Humana and Cigna are also seriously considering leaving Texas behind. The exodus comes amid widespread concern among health insurance companies that the marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act is too expensive for them. The remaining options for the millions of Texans left out to dry: either fork over for high premiums, or pay penalties for buying shorter-term policies or going uninsured entirely. It’s not like the health insurance situation in Texas was great even with all of those companies on board. As the Dallas Morning News notes, about five million Texans are uninsured, and the Texas Medical Association dubbed the Lone Star State “the uninsured capital of the United States.” Meanwhile, there’s a renewed push to expand Medicaid coverage in Texas, all thanks to Zika. According to the Texas Tribune, Medicaid advocates are pouncing on the recent decision by state leaders to allow Medicaid to cover mosquito repellant for Texas women, using that as a jumping-off point to show that hey, maybe Medicaid isn’t so bad? And the New Yorker has an interesting read, courtesy of a Houston doctor, about what it’s like to be poor, uninsured, and in desperate need of a new organ in Texas. Hint: it’s not a great situation.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Texas Swimmers in Trouble
Four U.S. Olympic swimmers—Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, San Antonio native Jimmy Feigen, and University of Texas swimmer Jack Conger—claimed they were robbed at gunpoint in Rio, but that story has unraveled rather spectacularly. There was no robbery. There was, however, a lot of pee. Turns out the root of our Olympians’ web of lies was some sort of altercation at a Rio gas station that ended with the swimmers trashing the joint and literally urinating all over the place. Interesting how fast they went from being showered in gold medals while competing in Rio to, uh, showering Rio in gold. If they’ll pee on a gas station floor, can you imagine what must go down in the pool? Anyway, they proceeded to lie to police and said they were robbed. The lie was easily exposed by police investigators. According to the Associated Press, Conger and Bentz flipped on Lochte and Feigen during subsequent questioning. They’re all pretty much in the clear now (Lochte booked it back to the U.S. before Brazilian authorities could get to him) and the issue has apparently been resolved, though the swimmers who were still stuck in Rio exited amid extremely appropriate jeers of “liars” and “fakes” from upset Brazilians, according to Reuters. Feigen struck a deal with a judge to “donate” nearly $11,000 to a Brazilian charity to get his passport back, according to ABC News, which Brazilian law allows to avoid prosecution for minor infractions.

Prison Changes
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice asked for an exemption from nearly $214 million of the $242 million the state suggested it cut from the budget, according to the Texas Tribune. The $28 million that the department has so far agreed to slash will come in the form of closing down a 450-bed intermediate facility in South Houston and repurposing a 667-bed state jail in downtown Houston into a short-term facility. According to the Austin American-Statesman, prison officials say they’ll need to cut loose 1,200 prison guards, reduce health care for 147,000 inmates, cut meal money and get rid of hundreds of beds if they’re forced to go through with the full budget cut suggestion. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it would be pretty much doing away with private prisons, according to the Washington Post. In Texas, that means private companies will no longer be contracted to operate five federal private prisons, according to the Tribune, although Fusion reports that the Department of Homeland Security has made no such promise to get rid of their privately owned immigration detention facilities.

Selena Honored
Tejano legend Selena Quintanilla Perez was officially inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame on Thursday. It’s been a pretty good year, posthumously speaking, for the deceased singer. As the Corpus Christi Caller-Times notes, Selena is joining the herd at Madame Tussauds in Los Angeles at the end of the month in wax form, her MAC Cosmetics makeup line debuts in September, and she’ll soon be getting her own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Other members of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame class of 2016 include University of Houston President Dr. Renu Khator, prominent Midland business owner Susie Hitchcock-Hall, pilot Emma Carter Browning, and Ginger Kerrick, the division chief of the Flight Operations Directorate Integration Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “I would like to thank each of the honorees and their families for their enduring contributions to the State of Texas,” Governor Greg Abbott, apparently a big Selena fan, said in a press release.


WHAT WE’RE READING


A Dallas man owes the city $259 for violating a bike helmet law that’s not actually a thing Dallas Morning News

Texas family’s lawsuit alleges Crocs are not just hideous, but also dangerous Associated Press

Veterans are having a hard time receiving treatment at Corpus Christi clinics Texas Tribune

The managing editor of the Galveston Daily News unexpectedly passed away on Wednesday Galveston Daily News

Freshman move-in day at Baylor after a turbulent year Waco Tribune

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