Sophie Novack

Sophie Novack is a staff writer at the Observer covering public health. She previously covered health care policy and politics at National Journal in Washington, D.C. You can contact her at [email protected].


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Health Care

In Texas, Thousands of Kids Lose Medicaid Coverage Each Month

Texas has the most uninsured kids in the nation. But state lawmakers have made it especially difficult for kids to stay on Medicaid.

It’s becoming a familiar scene across Texas: a parent brings her child to the doctor for a checkup. She signs in at the front desk. Only then does she learn that her child has been kicked off her health insurance—a … Read More

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, right, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, after the court heard arguments over Texas abortion clinic regulations in its biggest abortion case in nearly a quarter-century. Texas State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, listens, third from left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Health Care

Ken Paxton Says New Anti-Abortion Law Bars State Employees from Donating to Planned Parenthood

Advocates warn that the attorney general’s new opinion indicates how far efforts to implement a vague new law could go.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says state employees can no longer make payroll donations to Planned Parenthood under a new state law that bans abortion providers and their affiliates from partnering with local government entities.  Senate Bill 22, which went … Read More

Even before Ozona’s hospital closed in 1996, it had shuttered its maternity ward in the 1980s due to budget constraints.
Health Care

This West Texas Town is a Reproductive Health Void

Family planning clinics and abortion clinics across Texas have been closing at an alarming rate. Rural hospitals are shuttering their maternity wards. For many Texans, this means traveling hundreds of miles just to access basic reproductive health care services.

Critical Condition: Part 3 Labor Away Family planning clinics and abortion clinics across Texas have been closing at an alarming rate. Rural hospitals are shuttering their maternity wards. For many Texans, this means traveling hundreds of miles just to access … Read More

Health Care

A Decade of Texas Health Care By The Numbers

What do 2010 vs. 2019 comparisons tell us when it comes to lawmakers’ priorities on health care?

Texas is number one!…on many worst-of lists when it comes to public health. Over the past decade, there’s been upheaval in health care here and nationwide. In Texas, uninsured rates dropped a bit, then rose again. Access to reproductive health … Read More

A radiography room in a hospital.
Health Care

Everyone Wants to End Surprise Medical Billing in Texas, but No One Wants to Pay for It

New patient protections go into effect January 1, but a last-minute rulemaking controversy illustrates how hard it is to fix even a relatively narrow health care problem.

Patient advocates in Texas celebrated this spring, when they finally hit a major milestone in the decade-long fight against surprise medical bills. Amid a flood of media attention spotlighting patients who had been hit with astronomical hospital charges for procedures they … Read More

Carole Ward, a former nurse practitioner, ran the Memphis health clinic until she retired in 2017.
Health Care

The Last Nurse in Memphis, Texas

Carole Ward, a former nurse practitioner, ran the only health clinic in a small town in the Panhandle until she retired in 2017.

This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Carole Ward, a 66-year-old nurse practitioner who lives in Hedley, ran the Memphis health clinic from 2005 until she retired and the clinic … Read More

The Memphis health clinic shuttered in 2017, making it harder for Yolanda Narvaez, right, and her husband, Angel, to access care.
Health Care

Driving My Life Away

As physicians leave small towns, rural Texans must travel farther and farther for health care.

Critical Condition: Part 2 Driving My Life Away As physicians leave small towns, rural Texans must travel farther and farther for health care. + + + by Christopher Collins and Sophie Novack November 18, 2019  Yolanda Narvaez knew something … Read More

Henry Wilson, right, jacked up his storm-damaged house with his friend, Lester Owens, left. Wilson has lived in a trailer next to the house for the past two years.
Texas Politics

‘You Can Only Take So Much’: Low-Income Hurricane Harvey Survivors Sue Over ‘Discriminatory’ Recovery Process

The lawsuit accuses state and federal officials of favoring wealthier, white homeowners over poorer black and Hispanic renters.

Former city council member John Beard has a term to describe Port Arthur residents. In his Gulf Coast city of 55,000, people have all but given up on getting the help they need to recover from the storm that damaged … Read More

The clinic attached to the hospital is staying open for now.
Health Care

Scenes from a Rural Hospital’s Final Day

Chillicothe Hospital closed its doors on July 22. Its closure reverberated through the community in both expected and surprising ways.

This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Inside a tiny frontier hospital at the Texas Panhandle’s southern boundary, Judy Borton is hunched over the same gas stovetop that … Read More

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