The State of Texas: October 8, 2014
GIF of the Day
With Ebola apparently under control in the state, it’s hard not to enjoy this little GIF that’s been floating around the Internet’s periphery in places like Reddit, Imgur et al. It is titled, simply, “Ebola Scientist In Texas fighting the Disease”:
Texas By The Numbers
Number Problem — Average SAT math score of Texas teens this year: 495. Last year: 499. Last time average score has been so low: 1992. Score that year: 493. National average SAT math score: 513.
Disease Expenses — Cost of “phase one” decontamination the Dallas Ebola patient’s apartment: $65,000. Total estimated amount: $100,000. Amount the cleanup crew charges per hour: $182. Estimated cost of patient’s care, per day: $18,000 to $24,000. Total amoung an online fundraising effort for the patient has raised: $50.
Ebola Watch: Day 8 — With things looking up for the Ebola-plagued village of Dallas, the focus now seems to be how much extra money can be spent on prevention. “One week after the Ebola diagnosis in Dallas, federal and state officials said Tuesday the effort to prevent the virus’s spread here appears to be succeeding,” reports the Dallas Morning News, which also notes that the Reverend Jesse Jackson came to down to provide support and a prayer vigil for the family of Thomas Duncan, who’s in critical but stable condition. The generally good news hasn’t stopped tech-savvy prevention measures. Five Dallas schools have installed “fever scanners,” which sounds like a futuristic thing but is totally real. “Here’s how it works,” writes KTBC. “You look at the screen. There’s a sensor that reads temperature at a spot on the forehead. If the person has a temperature above 99.5 degrees, the device sends a notification with a picture, time and reading. That will then allow health officials to bring the person in for further assessment.” That’s pretty cool, but it doesn’t look as impressive as the Ebola-killing robot an enterprising San Antonio company developed for hospitals. Known as “Little Moe,” the robot’s “bulb emits powerful UV light, which fuses the DNA of a virus and kills it. This powerful technology is now being used in 250 hospitals across the U.S,” according to WTSP. It also looks like a cross between the robot in Lost in Space and a trash can.
Plan C — Well, this is surely going to cause a stir: doctors may be able to perform abortions. “State statute does not require physicians’ offices, such as gynecology and obstetrics practices, to obtain abortion licenses if they perform fewer than 50 such procedures a year,” according to the Texas Tribune. “That exempts them from the most restrictive provisions of House Bill 2, the contentious 2013 measure that has now shuttered almost all of the state’s remaining abortion clinics.” But this is still an exceptional measure for most: uninsured women can’t make a doctor’s visit, and many doctors won’t do it (there were only been a total of 43 in 2012, or 8 percent of the number of Texas abortions). However, those figures could increase now that HB2 is devastating proper abortion facilities, though “some say doctors are performing the procedure — just not reporting them as abortions” and one OBGYN said “the dramatic reduction in the number of abortion clinics in Texas could lead to an increase in physician misreporting on abortions, especially in the areas west of San Antonio and Fort Worth where abortion facilities are no longer in operation.” For now, the pro-life crowd isn’t concerned about violating doctor-patient relationships, but that doesn’t mean a lobbyist for Texas Right to Life “did not rule out pursuing legislation on it.” Because remember: it’s Obamacare that violates personal liberty and privacy.
A Vegas Wedding (Case) — The same-sex marriage train has left the station and is only gaining speed, even in Texas. “The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed [Tuesday] to expedite oral arguments in the case [of Texas’s gay marriage ban],” according to the San Antonio Express-News. “The request came on Monday from former San Antonians Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, one of two gay couples challenging the state ban. Former San Antonians Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss are the other couple involved in the case.” The speed of the case is due, in part, to De Leon and Dimetman, who are expecting their second child in March and want to ensure Dimetman has automatic parental rights. Under current Texas law, Dimetman has to go through a jerry-rigged, time-consuming and expensive adoption process. Will the Fifth Circuit just get on board with all the other appeals courts? Given the court’s past judgments, it’s unlikely.
Under The Microscope — It’s like arguing over your insurance premium bill, just millions of times worse. “The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is withholding $75 million that the state used to reimburse private hospitals for care they provided to poor patients without a means to pay,” reports the Texas Tribune. “As part of an arrangement with the federal government to give Texas greater flexibility in running Medicaid … the Obama administration agreed in 2011 to match local tax dollars to incentivize public health and hospital systems to experiment with ways to deliver care more efficiently. In some cases, private and nonprofit hospitals also agreed to contribute money for the projects, but the federal government said it would not match those dollars.” The problem, it seems, is that some of those private hospitals may or may not have done the exact opposite of the agreements, i.e. “instances of direct payments from private hospitals to governmental entities — money that the federal government was being asked to match.” Until the feds can figure out if the deals were legit, they’re withholding the $75 million. Hospitals are understandably eager to get the issue resolved since they tend to foot the bill for the uninsured.