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HHS, New Sheriff & Drug Lawsuits: Wednesday’s Show (June 17, 2015)

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek recently announced his resignation. He’ll step down July 1. His deputy, Chris Taylor, will replace him. Janek’s departure comes as the agency faces a number of issues, including a controversy surrounding a no-bid contract with an Austin-based technology company to detect Medicaid fraud. On this edition of […]

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek recently announced his resignation. He'll step down July 1. His deputy, Chris Taylor, will replace him. Janek's departure comes as the agency faces a number of issues, including a controversy surrounding a no-bid contract with an Austin-based technology company to detect Medicaid fraud. On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss the challenges that lie ahead for the new commissioner, with Texas Tribune reporter Terri Langford.

Also this hour: A conversation with the new Sheriff of Harris County, Ron Hickman. County commissioners appointed Hickman to fill the position when former Sheriff Adrian Garcia stepped down to formally run for Houston mayor. Sheriff Hickman tells Houston Matters’ Maggie Martin about changes he’s made to the department since the appointment.

Then: Recently, a jury awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and another $23 million in punitive damages in a civil suit filed by a Minnesota girl suffering from birth defects the jury found were caused by an anti-epileptic drug called Depakote, which the girl's mother took while pregnant. The Houston-based law firm Williams Kherkher represented 12-year-old Maddison Schmidt in the lawsuit against drug maker Abbott Laboratories. We hear from one of the lawyers on the trial team. Then, we discuss the larger implications of cases like this with Dr. Sheryl Dacso, partner at Seyfarth Shaw. She heads up the Health Law Section for the firm’s Houston office.

And: Houston Matters’ Paige Phelps sits down with Houston Ballet company member Harper Watters, to discuss diversity in ballet.

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Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen

Executive Producer/Host, Houston Matters

Craig Cohen is the executive producer and host of Houston Matters, which airs weekdays at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Houston Public Media, News 88.7 FM. Craig is a 20+ year veteran of broadcast journalism. He's spent the bulk of his career in public media, in roles ranging from programmer...

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