Feds Reject Texas Request For Insurance Waiver | KERA News

Feds Reject Texas Request For Insurance Waiver

The federal government has rejected a request by Texas to be excluded from a new law that would limit how much health insurance companies can spend on overhead. The law is part of recent changes in health care law that Texas officials say is unconstitutional.

It requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their revenue on health-related costs. The Texas Department of Insurance had asked permission to allow Texas companies to spend more on administrative costs because it said the new rule could hurt the industry.

But the federal Department of Health and Human Services said Texas did not make its case. Health insurers who spend more than 20 percent on overhead and executive salaries will be required to give rebates to customers starting this year.

AP

Texas' bills mounting for Perry's security detail

The state's bill for providing security for Gov. Rick Perry's presidential bid is nearly $800,000 and growing.

A Texas Department of Public Safety report released Thursday showed the cost of travel expenses for the security detail for Perry and his wife, Anita, was $798,031 from September through part of November.

The San Antonio Express News reports that most of that bill was for out-of-state trips and the security tab for travel outside Texas was more than $1.1 million from Perry's November 2010 re-election to this November.

Remaining security detail costs to the end of Perry's presidential campaign last week will be in future DPS reports. Democrats have called for the GOP governor to reimburse the state. Perry has said he shouldn't because he promotes Texas wherever he goes.

AP

Paul Quinn College Accreditation OK'd

Dallas’s small, Historically Black Paul Quinn College is officially back in the state’s academic good graces.

Paul Quinn president, Michael Sorrell, says the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board told him that it recognizes its accrediting organization.

Sorrell: For our standpoint, this is another indication of the caliber of institution that we are rapidly becoming. So it should make it easier for families and students to understand that this is a place they can go to school and feel good about the degree they’re receiving.

Three years ago, Paul Quinn was struggling with finances and under-performing students. The best known regional accrediting organization, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, would no longer validate the college. Sorrell sought accreditation by another organization, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. That’s the group the state just OK’d.

Bill Zeeble, KERA News

New math standards dependent on new books

The Texas Board of Education has approved new math standards for schools statewide - but only if the Legislature provides funding for new books to help students cope with tougher curriculums.

The board's move Friday must still be formally approved during its next meeting in April. But it could potentially pressure state lawmakers to approve funding for new books and other key classroom materials before Texas can demand more from its students. New math curriculum standards from kindergarten through eighth grade will take effect for the 2014-2015 school year when new books are available.

They will take effect in 2015-2016 for grades nine through 12 when those books are ready. The cost of new K-12 math materials would be roughly an estimated $400 million.

AP

Hospital re-educates staff after newborns switched

A Texas hospital has re-educated staff on patient identification procedures after two newborns were accidentally switched for about three hours after getting circumcised. Kevin and Susan Dunagan say they noticed when their son was returned that he looked different, but they didn't realize what had happened until a worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Plano discovered the mix-up.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the infants had been circumcised about the same time last month and their code numbers were similar.

The Dunagans' son was quickly located with the other baby's family. The hospital noted in a statement Friday that while "human error" caused the safety checks not to work as planned, "redundancies built into our processes caught the error."

AP

Fort Hood shooting suspect wants to delay trial

Defense attorneys for the Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage want to delay his March murder trial. A military judge set a hearing next week to consider Maj. Nidal Hasan's request to delay the trial. It's unclear why defense attorneys want more time or if they're proposing a new date.

The high-profile military trial is expected to last about two months at Fort Hood. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

He faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted in the November 2009 shooting spree on the Texas Army post. The 41-year-old Hasan remains jailed. He was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police that day.

AP

Penalty rescinded for Texas boy who urinated in bottle

School officials have revoked the punishment for a 12-year-old Houston-area boy who got into trouble for urinating in a water bottle during class.

Bill Hawkins, the boy's attorney, said the seventh-grader won't have to spend a month at an alternative campus after all. Klein school officials instead said he must serve three days in after-school detention for having a water bottle in class and drinking from it.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the decision followed an appeal hearing and the boy's parents were told Thursday night. The boy, whose name hasn't been released, said a teacher on Jan. 13 repeatedly denied permission for a restroom break during class.

Hawkins said the district's assistant superintendent and school principal apologized and the district should be applauded for rescinding the punishment.

AP