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Texas Enrollment Solid In 2014 Affordable Care Act Signup

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Texas Matters: Even with state leadership that staunchly opposed the Affordable Care Act and did what they could to hold it up, Texas numbers look good. Also on this show: Texas loses against the EPA, implications of botched Oklahoma execution.

Texas third in number of ACA plans enrolled in

Nationwide over eight million people signed up for the Affordable Care Act. That number surpasses the goal for the Obama administration in their signature program. And in Texas new numbers show that over 730,000 signed up through the health insurance exchange.

Texas ranked third nationally in health insurance plans selected behind California, which had 1.4 million, and Florida with 983,000.

Before the ACA rollout it was estimated that six million Texans were uninsured and the state had the highest percentage of uninsured.

Stacey Pogue is a senior policy analyst with the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.

"I think it really speaks volumes that this is actually a product and a program that is in demand in Texas. Even a state where leadership is so hostile to the expectation for the Affordable Care Act. We can only guess how it would look different if our state had embraced the Affordable Care Act. But you can see in the enrollment report the states that have done that -- California is an example -- have really incredible enrollment numbers."

*The next enrollment window opens November 15.

Also on this edition of Texas Matters:

A win for air quality and environmentalist in Supreme Court ruling

A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major victory for the Environmental Protection Agency and a stinging defeat for Texas state government.

The 6-2 decision upheld the EPA’s authority to keep air pollution from Texas and other states from harming downwind neighbors.

The decision was also a loss for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had challenged the rule and is using his opposition to the EPA as a tent pole in his campaign for governor.

In a statement, Abbott said the EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule is a job killer in Texas and he will continue to fight back against this unlawful and overreaching regulation.

Environmentalists are celebrating the decision. Luke Metzger is the director for Environment Texas.

Renewed pressure on courts following botched Oklahoma execution

We are slowly learning the facts concerning Tuesday’s troubled execution in Oklahoma. Clayton Lockett was convicted and given the death sentence for the 1999 shooting of Stephanie Nieman and then watching as two others buried her alive.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, during the execution a doctor could not find suitable veins in the arms or neck on Lockett for the death drugs so they inserted the IV in his groin and that vein soon after collapsed – causing further complications.

When Lockett showed signs of distress, pain and strained to lift his head off the pillow the prison warden ordered the execution halted.

Lockett later died from an apparent heart attack, 43 minutes after the execution began.

Texas is planning its next execution on May 13 for Robert Campbell. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice released a statement saying it “does not have plans to change its execution protocol based upon the Oklahoma incident.”

However, because of the Oklahoma botched execution there is growing pressure on states and the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that executions are carried out properly and not in violation of the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause in the Constitution.

Richard Dieter is the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi