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Texas’ civil Medicaid fraud unit is falling apart

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by Vianna Davila, The and ProPublica, The Texas Tribune – 2024-01-31 06:00:00

SUMMARY: An elite team of Texas Attorney General's lawyers effectively fought Medicaid fraud, recovering $2.6 billion in 20+ years. Despite its successes, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (noted for his political controversies) and his office are experiencing upheavals, with two-thirds of the lawyers resigning in the past year after Chief Raymond Winter's ousting. Winter, now the state inspector general, was popular but replaced after declining to back a questionable decision. The departures and internal strife suggest a crisis that could impair the state's capacity to identify and counteract Medicaid fraud, with current legal actions likely traced back to Winter's leadership. Paxton's administration has faced several staff departures due to dysfunction and is currently in a legal battle with whistleblowers. The future ability of the Civil Medicaid Fraud Division to secure settlements as successfully as before is uncertain given its diminished staff and loss of accumulated experience.

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A close-knit team

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Growing pressure

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Former Texas Ranger David Maxwell Jr. testifies during Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment trial in the state Senate last year.

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No one was safe

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The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Texas Tribune

Officials investigating what caused Texas Panhandle wildfires

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by Jayme Lozano Carver and Emily Foxhall, The – 2024-03-01 22:35:52



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As wildfires rage, Fritch residents seek respite at church

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by Carlos Nogueras Ramos, The – 2024-03-01 21:38:16

SUMMARY: As wildfires ravaged the Texas Panhandle, Fritch resident Deana McBroom and her family hastily fled, saving only a box of paperwork. Over 1 million acres were scorched, marking this as the largest wildfire in Texas history. The McBrooms, now temporary residents at their daughter's house in Borger, visit a local church for sustenance and support. Fritch, with a population of 2,300, remains largely off-limits as officials assess the extent of the devastation. The fires, fueled by fierce winds, took two lives and incinerated at least 50 homes in Fritch alone. Residents like the McBrooms and the Cogswells sift through remnants, facing the loss of homes and personal history, as they contemplate an uncertain future.

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A burned truck sits on lot where the fire went through while areas behind appear to be untouched Friday, March. 1, 2024, in Fritch, Texas.

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Deana McBroom holds one of their baby goats that survived the fire Friday, March. 1, 2024, in Fritch, Texas. Most of their livestock survived the fire.

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The burned remnants of Dan Cogswell's shed Friday, March. 1, 2024, in Fritch, Texas.

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Texas wildfires devastate state’s agriculture economy

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by Alejandra Martinez, The – 2024-03-01 16:00:54

SUMMARY: Texas has been struck by its largest wildfire in history, ravaging over 1 million acres and affecting the agriculture sector, a key component of the state's economy. The blaze killed thousands of livestock, destroyed crops, and damaged infrastructure. Agriculture contributes 9% to Texas' gross state product, and over 85% of the state's cattle are in the Panhandle. The disaster exacerbates existing challenges, like drought-induced herd reductions and decreased beef production. Communities are rallying to help, offering discounts on supplies, donations, and shelter for displaced livestock. State grants and resources like the Texas Department of Agriculture's Hay Hotline are aiding recovery, although rebuilding operations will take time.

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Pierson Sparks unloads hay at a donation site Friday, March. 1, 2024, in Borger, Texas.

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