Ashley Lopez / KUT-Austin | KERA News

Ashley Lopez / KUT-Austin

Ashley Lopez is a reporter for WGCU News. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree. 

Previously, Lopez was a reporter for Miami's NPR member station, 

WLRN-Miami Herald News. Before that, she was a reporter at The Florida Independent. She also interned for Talking Points Memo in New York City and WUNC in Durham, North Carolina. She also freelances as a reporter/blogger for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

Send news pitches to wgcunews at wgcu.org

Groups that help register new voters in Texas are challenging the state's effort to remove noncitizens from voter rolls, claiming it's an attempt to intimidate people of color, a growing demographic in the state.

Almost 68 percent of voters in Texas voted straight ticket during the 2018 general election, according to a new report from the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Texas officials released a list of 95,000 people on the state’s voter rolls who they suspect might not be citizens. Since then, election officials in Travis County have been vetting the state’s list. The process has been tedious and complicated – and there's no telling when it will end.

Consumer advocates and health insurers are pushing Texas lawmakers to address surprise medical bills during this year’s legislative session.

In Texas, a growing number of patients are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with unexpected hospital bills.

The bills in question often arrive in patients' mailboxes with shocking balances that run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When patients, through no fault of their own, are treated outside their insurers' network of hospitals, the result can be a surprise bill. Other times, insurers won't agree to pay what the hospital charges, and the patient is on the hook for the balance.

Julieta Garibay is one of almost 100,000 people on Texas' voter rolls who state officials recently said might not be citizens. Like many people on the list, though, the Austin resident recently became a U.S. citizen and has the right to vote.

Voting rights groups and local election officials say the state’s bungled effort to prove there are thousands of noncitizens on the state’s voter rolls is all about making voter registration harder in Texas before the 2020 election.

Texas officials are taking a step back on their claim they found 95,000 possible noncitizens in the state's voter rolls. They say it is possible many of the people on their list should not be there.

In a statement Tuesday, the Texas Secretary of State's office said they "are continuing to provide information to the counties to assist them in verifying eligibility of Texas voters."

A Latino civil rights organization filed a lawsuit in federal court today against Texas' effort to identify noncitizens who are registered to vote.

The lawsuit brought by the the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) argues state officials violated the Voting Rights Act when they advised local registrars to remove alleged noncitizens from their voter rolls.

As U.S. immigration enforcement becomes stricter under the Trump administration, more immigrant families are cutting ties with health care services and other critical government programs, according to child advocates who work with these families.

In Texas, researchers studying the issue say it's a major reason why more children are going without health insurance.

Kevin Drapela and his wife, Cori-Beth Tuite, found themselves at a food bank Wednesday – something they never expected.

The IRS employees from Taylor were among the federal workers who attended a resource fair hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank in response to the ongoing government shutdown.

A growing number of Texans are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with surprise hospital bills. However, the program is likely only addressing a fraction of the surprise medical bills Texans receive in the mail every year. 

One of the 100 congressional freshmen starting work today is from Central Texas.

Republican Chip Roy is now representing the 21st Congressional District, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin and up into the Hill Country. Roy is replacing Republican Lamar Smith, who retired after holding the seat since 1987.

More than 1 million Texans signed up for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended the day after a federal judge ruled the law is invalid. That's almost 40,000 fewer sign-ups than during the last enrollment period.

Soon after a federal judge ruled Friday that the Affordable Care Act was invalid, Gov. Greg Abbott told The Dallas Morning News that Texas would create its own health care system if the decision is upheld.

It won't be that simple. Here are some things you should know about Abbott’s plan:

A federal judge in Fort Worth has ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, in a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general and two Republican governors.
 

Race and geography are good predictors of whether a woman in Texas will have a severe complication during childbirth, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler studied public hospital records submitted to the state from 2011 to 2016 for instances of severe maternal morbidity, which are complications that could almost kill a woman who is giving birth that include heart attacks, severe bleeding, eclampsia and blood clots, among other things.

With less than two weeks of open enrollment left, Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities says it's reporting a noticeable decline in the number of Latinos signing up for health insurance through healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

A new study suggests a proposed Trump administration policy could discourage immigrant families from enrolling their citizen children in public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.

After a decade of decline in the rate of uninsured children in Texas, a new study shows that rate is increasing again.

The Texas Senate race was very, very close – closer than any statewide election in recent history – and Latinos could be part of the reason why.

“Latinos are becoming a political force to be reckoned with in the state,” said Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, the executive director of Jolt, which works to get young Latinos, in particular, politically engaged.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has won re-election in Texas, fending off a tough challenge from Democrat Beto O'Rourke.

"Texas came together behind a common-sense agenda of low taxes, low regulation and lots and lots of jobs," Cruz told supporters at an election night watch party in Houston. "[It was about] securing the border and keeping our communities safe, defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

PHOTOS | Scenes From The Cruz And O'Rourke Election Night Watch Parties

Ana Flores can vote for the first time this year. The 18-year-old lives in Houston with her mom. Like many young people who just got the right to vote, she was curious about what it would be like.

“I just wanted to try it out," she said, "see how it would feel for the first time.”

Election officials in Texas are working to address concerns about a slew of voting machines currently being used in this year's midterm election. They say user error is mostly to blame because voters are not waiting for screens to load on the state's aging machines.

Attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project say they have heard about issues, particularly with people voting a straight-ticket ballot on Hart eSlate machines, which are used in many counties in the state. Early voting has been underway in Texas for the past week.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been charging a record number of people with committing voter fraud, an effort his critics decry as an intimidation campaign designed to discourage minority voters from casting ballots.

In 2018 alone, Paxton's office has prosecuted "33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations," compared with a total of 97 prosecutions on similar charges for the 12-year period between 2005 and 2017, according to a release this month from Paxton's office.

Less than a year into his first term as Texas attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton was indicted by a state grand jury on three criminal charges. The Democrat challenging his re-election, Justin Nelson, has said that's the key issue as voters go to the polls starting Monday.

A large percentage of Texas Latinos don’t know what political party to align themselves with and are cynical about the voting process, according to a new report.

The report, released today, surveyed 1,000 Latinos in Texas ages 18 to 45. It was conducted by Jolt Initiative, a group working to mobilize young Latino voters.

Groups working to eliminate the right to abortion in Texas are rethinking their legislative strategies now that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative, has a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Texas Senate race wasn't supposed to be competitive this year. But thanks to an imaginative campaign, Beto O'Rourke has energized Democrats, drawing huge crowds and raising tens of millions of dollars in what was initially seen as a long-shot bid to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

For the first time in years, the uninsured rate in Texas is starting to climb again. After the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014, the state’s uninsured rate dropped from 22 percent to about 16 percent in 2016. However, that trend has started to move in another direction.

Pages