Free Bug Spray for Texas Women on Medicaid

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 16, 2016 10:29 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

If you call up the Texas Department of State Health Services, you might hear something catchy. This isn’t your internet company’s hold music: it’s a message about mosquitos.

While its catchiness might be a matter of taste, its message reflects Texas’s renewed Zika prevention efforts. On Monday, state officials made it a lot easier for low-income women to protect themselves against mosquitoes and the threat of the virus.

Texas Public Radio’s Wendy Rigby reports that Texas Health and Human Services announced women on Medicaid can see their physician and get a prescription for two free cans of mosquito repellent monthly at their pharmacy.

“Today, the process has been streamlined. Now pregnant women of any age and all women between 10 and 45 on Medicaid can go directly to the pharmacy to pick up the spray. No doctor’s visit is required,” she says. “Texas is the first state to enact this kind of standing order to combat the threat of Zika for women since the disease can cause devastating birth defects.”

Texas lawmakers are set to hear testimony about the state of mental health services over the next two days. Greg Hansch, public policy director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness – or NAMI Texas –  was invited to give testimony to the Select Committee on Mental Health. He says Texas has come a long way in the last couple of years, but there’s still a lot more to do.

“One example of that is in the area of psychiatric beds, hospital beds,” he says. “There’s currently a very long wait list for access to those beds particularly among people who are involved in the criminal justice system and that has the impact of people waiting in jail for treatment that they very clearly need, and it really is a human rights issue and Texas has a long way to go in helping these people out.”

Hansch says much of it boils down to funding.

“During the last legislative the Texas Legislature and the governor did increase funding for in-patient mental health services. But Texas still ranks pretty close to last in the United States in terms of psychiatric beds per 100,000 people,” he says. “Second, our state hospital system is aging…and there needs to be a big update made to our state’s inpatient infrastructure.”

Tomorrow members of the committee will hear from the public for the first time in its short history.

Houston Olympian Simone Biles is gracing the next Sports Illustrated cover, alongside swimming stars Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. She’s expected to bring home a fifth medal in the floor exercise today.