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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Health & Medicine

An Update on Dallas’ Bottom-of-the-Barrel Uninsured Rate

| 7 mins ago

I’d like to point you to my colleague Will Maddox’s piece over on D CEO Healthcare. Every few months, a consumer-facing research website likes to go through Census data and make broad declarations about healthcare or finance or something else that the bureau tracks. This time, it’s WalletHub, and today’s is the uninsured rate. And Dallas’ rate of 24.42 percent ranked 539 out of 548 of American cities. That affects people of color far more than white residents: black people had an uninsured rate of 20 percent while Latinos were uninsured at a rate of almost 38 percent.

The national uninsured rate is 8.5 percent, while Texas’ is 17.7 percent. The state’s long been dubious when it comes to its uninsured rate. (I’ve been reporting that since the early days of 2015.) State leaders stubbornly refused to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, grouping it in with 14 other states who wouldn’t do so. Most of those states are our company at the bottom of the list. Our neighbor Oklahoma is No. 2.

There were problems with the expansion model, sure. Medicaid never paid doctors well, which has led many to stop accepting those patients. Hospital leaders have long maintained that the uninsured population aren’t going to primary care doctors, allowing their conditions to deteriorate until they need an emergency room. But financially, expanded Medicaid would’ve been something of a safety net for providers. As it stands, when this population gets sick, they show up at the hospital—the most expensive place to receive care. And the cost of that care either gets eaten by that hospital or, especially if they go to Parkland, it winds up being footed in part by the taxpayer. That’s not sustainable.

Dallas is the largest American city with the highest rate of uninsured residents, and, as Will notes, seven of the 10 most poorly insured cities in the nation are in Texas. We have work to do. It’s a reminder of the importance of getting an accurate, complete count during the 2020 Census. That’s how the feds dole out funding for healthcare to communities, including programs that help insure poor kids. If we undercount, we miss out on those dollars. And you can see how badly the region needs any help it can get.

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Local News

Leading Off (10/14/19)

| 5 hours ago

The Outrageous Death of Atatiana Jefferson. What was the Fort Worth police officer who shot the 28-year-old in her mom’s house early Saturday morning thinking? Read this by Sharon Grigsby.

Is It Too Early to Fire Jason Garrett? This column says no but your heart says yes, I know it. You know it. Garrett knows it.

Trump is Here This Week. And so are the Oath Keepers.

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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks

| 3 days ago

Cynt Marshall

This was originally published in the October issue of D CEO.

When former AT&T executive Cynt Marshall was named CEO of the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, she became the first woman to lead the team’s front office. The NBA franchise had come under fire after workers complained of a hostile and toxic work environment. Turning things around became priority No. 1 for Marshall. “We have transformed the culture,” she says. “We still have work to do, but we truly have a different culture than what we had.”

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/11/19)

| 3 days ago
Brittany Kaseoru is a State Fair first-timer.

It’s Brittany Kaseoru’s first time at the State Fair of Texas. 

“Everyone has said you have to go! It’s very different than other fairs. It’s bigger and more inclusive. I really like all the museums. I think we’re going to try and see some animal life, some goats or something. It would be nice to check out some art and do some shopping. There’s a lot of people, and we’re still exploring. I expected to see a lot more ‘cowboy up’ garb. The Big Tex guy is pretty goofy. He’s larger than life, just like Texas!” 

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events.

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Health & Medicine

A Medical Mystery, Unfolding on Facebook

| 3 days ago

When I was 3 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The chronic disease has never been a big deal for me. It’s obnoxious, sure, but manageable. Over the course of my 34 years, I estimate I’ve given myself some 55,000 injections. I’ve worked hard to stay healthy. I have run a few half-marathons and completed a full. I’m not a fast runner, and I never particularly enjoyed it, but I knew my diabetes would catch up to me at some point, so I ran because I could.

About three and a half years ago, everything changed. I was part of a group of women called Leadership Texas. It was a yearlong program with which we traveled to different cities and learned about the people making a difference. One of our sessions was in Amarillo. The second day of the trip, on a Saturday, I woke up in my hotel room soaked in sweat. Every part of my body was swollen. I couldn’t bend my fingers, my toes, my elbows, or my knees. I was exhausted beyond description.

I had joined a study a year and a half prior to see if a medicine that is used on Type 2 diabetics could work for Type 1s. It had been a great 18 months, with lower blood sugars and weight loss. But then I changed jobs and, thus, insurance companies. The new company didn’t like the name-brand drug. They made me switch to a generic.

That morning in Amarillo, I figured I was having a reaction to this new drug. I was convinced that things would go back to normal in a few weeks. I was certain it was just a small bump in the road.

I was wrong.

What follows are my Facebook posts over the years, lightly edited, as I saw nearly a dozen doctors in an effort to figure out what was wrong with me.

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Local News

Leading Off (10/11/19)

| 3 days ago

It’s 47 Degrees As I Type This. The cold front came in last night, bringing not as vicious a storm as it could have. The lows for today and tomorrow are near freezing, and we could see some frost today. The storms should pass after this morning. We’re talking a 50 degree drop between Thursday and Monday, according to WFAA.

Former Hillcrest Student Indicted on Murder, Rape Charges. Lenario Washington, 16, will be tried as an adult for a crime spree across Dallas and Louisiana. Police say he broke into the home of 23-year-old Maria Ezquerro last November and raped and strangled her. Indictments show that he’d knock on the door, flash a gun, and force his way in. There were four victims in all.

Errol Spence Suffered No Broken Bones in Ferrari Crash. The boxer flipped his car on Riverfront near Interstate 30 at 3 a.m. on Thursday. He was ejected from the vehicle. Today, he’s stabilized and apparently suffered no broken bones or fractures. His people say he had some face lacerations. Prayers up for the champ.

If Your Power Is Out, It Should Be Back This Morning. Oak Cliff and parts of southern Dallas had some issues with downed power lines overnight, causing somewhere around 14,000 to lose power. Oncor says it should flip back on later this morning. 

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Sports & Leisure

It’s the 30th Anniversary of the Herschel Walker Trade

| 4 days ago

Technically, the trade of Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings went down on October 12, 1989. But 30 years ago today, October 10, is when Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson announced to his staff that he was going to do it, at the end of their daily lunchtime jog. As he recalled to writer Steve Wulf five years ago:

“I told them the only way to fix this thing was to trade our best player. I told them we had to trade Herschel Walker.”

The team was 0-5 at the time, on its way to 1-15. There was some bad luck in there, to be sure, and some players who were still learning on the job (Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin), but the roster wasn’t much better than that record. The Walker trade, largely misunderstood at the time, nominally brought in four players. But they were not nearly as important as the seven draft picks that came along with them, which Johnson used to acquire other picks and move around in the draft, resulting in the Cowboys acquiring Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, Clayton Holmes, and Alonzo Highsmith. It fully set in motion a rebuild that resulted in Super Bowl wins in 1992, 1993, and 1995.

There are plenty of other examples of Johnson’s greatness as a personnel man (not to mention a coach) but this, probably rightly, the one that is always brought up.

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/10/19)

| 4 days ago
Officer Aricelia Géiser is on her second year at the State Fair of Texas. (Photo by Jason Janik)

Officer Aricelia Géiser is on her second year at the State Fair of Texas and her first year working it.  

“I’m a big fan of the food, honestly. It’s so hard to be working and not eat all the food. It’s different working the fair, because you’re in uniform and everyone notices you, asking where’s what. It’s a good feeling helping lost kids get reunited with their parents. I don’t ride the rides or play games. We don’t get out of here until 11 p.m., so everything’s closed down.  My advice? Wear comfortable shoes!” 

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events.

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Media

Jo Brans, R.I.P.

| 4 days ago

Jo Brans was a wonderful writer. She began contributing to D Magazine in 1976. She wrote book reviews and dining reviews and then went on to have a monthly column called Families. She was funny and smart and generous with personal details. Jo did her work here well before my tenure, and I never met her, but having recently spent a good number of hours hunting down her bylines in our musty old pages, I feel indebted to her. Her voice helped establish the magazine in its earliest years.

Jo and her husband Willem left Dallas for New York City in 1984. She was at the time an SMU English professor. Find the time to read the essay that she wrote about her impending departure, titled “Goodbye to All This.” She talks about why she’ll miss her students and the magazine and the city itself.

Then read this amazing cover story she wrote for the magazine in 1982 about marriage and divorce. I would love to have been present for the editorial meeting that produced the cover concept, which sold the piece as reader service. That photograph? Were those models even old enough to marry a first time, much less a second? Did that woman bear that child when she was 12? Lee Cullum was the editor at the time. I’ll have to ask her.

In any case, if Jo’s story was reader service, it was very literary reader service. In laying bare her own divorce and remarriage — how her friends and family handled it, how her children adjusted — she did offer us a “guide” of sorts. When she wrote the essay, she’d been married to Willem for eight years. She talked about looking forward to the eight to come, and the eight after that. I was happy to learn from Jo’s son, Winton Porterfield, that she managed 45 years with Willem.

Jo died September 25 in New York. She is survived by Willem; Winton and his wife Kim, who live in San Marcos; and her daughter, Erin Porterfield, who lives in Dallas. Funeral services will be this Saturday, October 12, in New York. There are more details about the service and her life in this obit.

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Sports & Leisure

Nick Van Exel Is Back on the Dallas Mavericks

| 4 days ago
My cat Sally and my Nick Van Exel shirt.

If you know anything about me, there is a good chance you know how much I love Nick Van Exel, who was the Mavs’ left-handed, irrationally confident sixth man in 2002 and 2003, before being traded to Golden State. He has a skull made to wear headbands at a jaunty angle. He is, without question, one of my favorite basketball players of all time. Post career, he’s been coaching (including a stint as the head man for the G League Texas Legends). Now, he’s back in Dallas, as a pro personnel scout, according to my guy Marc Stein.

Welcome back, sir. I’m sorry. Welcome home.

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Transportation

At a Deep Ellum Town Hall on Self-Driving Cars, Dallas Gets an Introduction to Uber

| 4 days ago

Soon, Uber will move a lot of people to Dallas. The company will take up residence in the gleaming new buildings that sit on the eastern edge of Deep Ellum, a development called The Epic on North Good-Latimer Expressway. Tuesday, a pack visited an empty 12th floor on the development’s cockeyed first structure. Inside was concrete everything, except for a stage flanked with a projector and floor-to-ceiling windows that offered damn incredible panoramic views of the city.

The faint outline of a self-driving car appeared every so often on screen, a reflection of light sliding slowly across it. Lil Nas X and Post Malone blared from the speakers. Eventually, Eric Meyhofer stepped on stage. He heads Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), the Pittsburgh-based slice of Uber charged with making self-driving cars a reality. He’s been with Uber since 2015.

Depending on who you believe, Uber may—or may not—live and die by ATG’s success. That’s because the economics of its current business are not good. It continues to lose money on rides, and, despite scale, Uber hasn’t been able to differentiate itself from competitors with technology that markedly improves the experience or lowers the price. And, internationally that’s not just Lyft. Its second quarter earnings report revealed a $5 billion loss. Simply put, the model works better when you don’t have to pay drivers.

Meyhofer was not in town to answer for all Uber’s struggles or for some Uber-to-Dallas kickoff soiree. Tuesday was a town hall for the launch of Uber’s effort to begin mapping downtown Dallas. To do so, it will use its self-driving cars driven by real human beings. One day, the company hopes it can turn the real robots loose with paid passengers. You couldn’t help but notice what felt like an abundance of effort to show transparency.

“Remember, this is about growing our existing business,” Meyhofer said. “This isn’t about replacing driver partners. This is about adding supply. When you look at cities that are getting hit the hardest, they’re the ones that typically can’t secure enough drivers. They can’t grow to meet demand. Those are good places for us. But it has to be a city where the geography is reasonable for the technology at the time.”

And Dallas is one of those places?

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