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Houston Hospital Loses Heart Transplant Medicaid Funding, Texas Unemployment Rate for July Remains at Four Percent, And More

What we’re following at Houston Public Media today

Friday, August 17, 2018

Top afternoon stories:

Houston hospital loses heart transplant Medicaid funding

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has stopped funding a Houston hospital’s renowned heart transplant program amid scrutiny over patient deaths.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is set to lose the federal funding Friday. The federal health agency announced the decision in June after finding that the hospital hadn’t done enough to correct issues that led to a high rate of patient deaths in recent years.

The hospital will no longer be able to bill Medicare and Medicaid for heart transplants.

Medical experts say the funding termination will have ramifications beyond the heart transplant program, such as the loss of private insurance companies.

St. Luke’s spokeswoman Marilyn Gerry says the hospital is working with the agency on possible options to maintain federal approval.


Texas unemployment rate for July remains at four percent

The Texas unemployment rate stood at 4 percent for the second consecutive month, just a tick below the national jobless figure of 4.1 percent.

The Texas Workforce Commission on Friday said the state unemployment rate for July was unchanged from June.

The commission says Texas added about 23,500 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in July, marking 25 consecutive months of employment growth. Officials say Texas for the year has added 377,100 jobs for an annual employment growth rate of 3.1 percent.

The Midland area again had the lowest unemployment rate in the state, settling at 2.2 percent. The highest rate was recorded in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission region with 6.9 percent.

Texas’ statewide rate is down from the 4.5 percent recorded in July 2017.


The Karnes County Residential Center is a detention center for immigrant women and their children in Karnes City, southeast of San Antonio. The facility is run by The GEO Group, Inc.

After “disturbance” at immigrant detention center, 16 migrant fathers taken away overnight

Immigration officials called it a "situation" and a "disturbance." Advocates have described it as a "horrifying scene." Whatever happened on Wednesday afternoon at a South Texas immigration detention center for families led to 16 adult men being taken away to spend the night in a different facility.

A conflict broke out Wednesday afternoon between dozens of migrant fathers and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement guards manning the Karnes County Residential Center, which is currently housing migrant fathers reunited with their children after being separated under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy. They were to be returned on Thursday, an ICE spokeswoman said.

According to lawyers for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas nonprofit, armed ICE officers stormed the facility's hallways and arrested more than a dozen migrant parents who had only recently been reunited with their children. A RAICES attorney said an ICE officer told him guards had to intervene to stop the "disruptive behavior" that had caused "safety concerns." But advocates characterized it as backlash against migrants who had been speaking out about their conditions.

ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said no children were involved in the scuffle, as they were in class, and there were no injuries sustained on either side. Pruneda said about 40 men were involved, but did not give details about the "disturbance."


Top morning stories:

Will Democrats engage Texas Latino voters?

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and State Senator Sylvia Garcia (District 6) listen to Latino organizers in Houston’s East End.

Whether or not politicians engage Latino voters could play a key role in upcoming midterm elections, especially with issues like immigration at the forefront of national debates. However, some reports suggest failures in Democratic outreach to Latino voters.


Houston man who attempted to bomb Confederate statue to be sentenced

A Houston man who tried to destroy a Confederate statue in Hermann Park last summer faces sentencing Friday in federal court.

Andrew C.E. Schneck faces fines and up to 20 years in prison on one count of “attempt to maliciously damage property receiving Federal financial
assistance,” according to court documents.

On August 19, 2017, a Houston park ranger observed Schneck kneeling among the bushes in front of the statue of Confederate General Dowling Monument. Schneck was allegedly holding two small boxes with various items inside. After placing the boxes on the ground per the ranger's request, the ranger noticed a timer and wires in the box and notified the Houston Police Department.

Field tests concluded the materials in question were most likely nitroglycerin and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD). HMTD is a high explosive organic compound.


McRaven asks Trump to revoke his security clearance

Former University of Texas Chancellor, and retired Navy admiral, William McRaven penned a strongly-worded open letter to President Trump, asking that his security clearance be revoked.

The letter was published in The Washington Post on Thursday. McRaven oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In the letter, he praised former CIA Director Brennan and told President Donald Trump that he’d be honored if Trump would revoke his security clearance just like he Brennan's. McRaven wrote he wants to add his name to the list of men and women who have spoken against Trump's presidency, saying his actions "have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation."

McRaven stepped down as UT chancellor in May. He served as commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command between 2011 and 2014.


Houston man arrested in Vietnam speaks publicly for the first time since returning home

William Nguyen, left, with his sister Victoria are seen in this undated family photo.

A man from Houston who was recently deported from Vietnam after spending 40 days in prison is speaking publicly for the first time since his return to the U.S. William Nguyen was arrested June 10 for participating in a protest in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nguyen had traveled to Vietnam on vacation, shortly before he was to graduate from the National University of Singapore. He was arrested while protesting the Vietnamese government's plans to establish special economic zones and to enact cybersecurity law aimed cracking down on dissent.


CEO of Station Houston on Houston as an ‘innovation hub’

Gaby Rowe replaces John Reale as CEO of Station Houston.

Startup hub Station Houston has hired Gaby Rowe as its new CEO.

Rowe was previously head of The Village School in west Houston and calls herself a "serial entrepreneur." News 88.7’s Florian Martin spoke with her about her vision for Station Houston and the city's ongoing effort to improve its startup and tech innovation ecosystem.


How a storm that completely missed Houston still devastated the city

Houston Public Media's new podcast "Hurricane Season" explores some of the biggest storms that have impacted the Gulf Coast and its development, policies, and people.

On this episode, Hurricane Rita.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or subscribe via RSS.


Making a hobby out of helping stranded motorists

We meet Walt Brinker, a former Houstonian who has made a hobby out of helping motorists stranded along the roadside — so much so that he wrote a book about it.

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