Sam Richardson

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, (right) speaks on a panel discussing the Affordable Care Act at KUT Studios on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

With enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act now open for 2015, four panelists at KUT Studios in the Belo Center for New Media on Tuesday discussed the impact of the act so far.

The panel included State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton; Bee Moorhead of Texas Impact; Sam Richardson, assistant professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs; and Austin American-Statesman reporter Tim Eaton. The group examined the impact the health care act had on Texas communities during its first year and discussed what they hope to see in the next session.

According to Zerwas, polling shows people are not happy with what has happened as a result of the act. 

“In general, the Affordable Care Act is not well received by Americans across the country and certainly in Texas, also,” Zerwas said. “If you talk to most people about it, they don’t like what it does. … More people are paying more for their insurance coverage as a consequence of the health care reform act and [are] getting less options.”

Richardson said individuals with fewer options may be uninformed.

“For those who don’t fall into the Medicaid gap, they typically get very cheap insurance coverage,” Richardson said. “For people who qualify for subsidies under the federal marketplace, they can find plans … for $40 a month [to] $60 a month. We see a lot of people able to get coverage much more cheaply.”

Zerwas said he would like to see officials come together next session to help individuals with no coverage. 

“My hope is that, through this period of time, there has been more conversations with the members of the legislature, a better understanding of what this could do for their community in particular, and that we come back and have a conversation that is less tainted by politics and is more about trying to solve a solution,” Zerwas said. “I don’t care if it’s the ‘John Zerwas Texas’ solution or if it’s somebody else’s plan — we have a million to a million-and-a-half people that fall into a gap.”

Voters in Texas were not educated on what their legislatures were saying about the act, according to Moorhead.  

“This time around, one of the things that advocates are committed [for] legislatures to do is to work with them and to work with their constituents to make sure people at least understand, so that, if a legislature takes the step of saying, ‘I want to do that right thing for my state,’ that their constituents are really clear that they are doing the right thing for their state,” Moorhead said.

Junior QB Sam Richardson

Richardson enjoyed one of the best games of his career last season against the Longhorns, passing for 262 yards and two touchdowns while adding 83 yards on the ground. The junior will be hard pressed to replicate those numbers against an improved Texas defense this year, but he has been playing extremely well this season. In addition to passing for 1,354 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first six games, Richardson leads Iowa State with 283 rushing yards on 71 carries. He’s thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his last four games, and, last week, he recorded a career-high 351 passing yards against Toledo. He’s passed for 412 yards and four touchdowns in two conference games this season, but the Texas defense will be his toughest challenge yet. 

Junior RB Aaron Wimberly

After turning in an impressive junior campaign in 2013, Wimberly took a step back in the first half of this season. The senior rushed for just 158 yards on 52 carries in his first five games of 2014, and he’s yet to rush for even 40 yards in a game this season. That being said, he still lead the Cyclones with three rushing touchdowns, and he’s made himself a factor in the passing game with 10 receptions already. Wimberly torched the Texas defense for 117 rushing yards last season, a game in which he scored one touchdown on the ground and another through the air. He’s struggled mightily this season, but the Longhorns know from last year that he is capable of much more.

Freshman WR Allen Lazard

Lazard has been one of the brightest spots for the Iowa State offense this season. In the absence of redshirt junior wide receiver Quenton Bundrage, who’s out for the year with a torn ACL, Lazard has stepped up to lead the Cyclone receiving corps in the first six games of the season. The true freshman has hauled in 21 passes and two touchdowns so far and leads Iowa State with 304 receiving yards. He’s coming off of the best game of his career, as he recorded a career-high eight receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown last week. At 6 feet 5 inches and 221 pounds, Lazard creates matchup issues for opposing defensive backs. 

Senior TE E.J. Bibbs

Bibbs has been one of the Cyclones’ most consistent playmakers so far this season, leading the team with four touchdown receptions while hauling in at least three passes in each of the last five games. The 6-foot-3-inch, 264-pound senior tight end is the ideal red zone target for Richardson. He turned in a solid performance against the Longhorns last year when he registered three receptions for 43 yards. Bibbs had one of the best games of his career in his last conference game, against Oklahoma State, recording a season-high six catches for 69 yards and two scores.

QB

Advantage: Iowa State

Signal-caller Sam Richardson brings some much needed stability to a Cyclone program that has had its fair share of quarterback issues. The redshirt junior is a strong pocket passer, but he is not afraid to take off running, as evidenced by his team-leading 283 rushing yards. 

Tyrone Swoopes looked like a star at times in the Red River Showdown. The sophomore made quick reads, zipped tight spirals down the sidelines and made plays with his legs. He can still be frustratingly inaccurate, but his stellar fourth quarter performance should have Texas fans excited to see what Swoopes has in store for the future.

RB

Advantage: Texas

Malcolm Brown was given the brunt of the carries against Oklahoma, and the senior responded with some fantastic second efforts, which led to a respectable 4.1 yards per carry. Junior Johnathan Gray has shown flashes this season but has struggled to consistently run for decent gains.  

The Cyclone backs have consistently underwhelmed this season. Redshirt junior DeVondrick Nealy and senior Aaron Wimberly combine to average 3.2 yards per carry, and their longest run on the season tops out at 16 yards. Head coach Paul Rhoads has expressed confidence in his backs and shifted the blame to his linemen.

WR

Advantage: Texas

Swoopes relied heavily on senior John Harris early on this year, suggesting that junior Marcus Johnson and senior Jaxon Shipley had fallen off. But the trio had its best game as a unit last week, with each receiver notching a reception of 32 yards or more and hauling in at least 90 receiving yards.

Redshirt senior Jarvis West is the Cyclones’ go-to option for big plays, but true freshman Allen Lazard has emerged as the most consistent performer for this unit. Lazard has already accrued a team-high 304 receiving yards, the 11th best mark in the nation for a rookie. Senior tight end E.J. Bibbs could win All-Big 12 honors, and his four touchdown receptions lead the team.

OL

Advantage: Texas

Offensive line coach Joe Wickline’s magic touch looks like it is slowly getting to the Texas front five. They did not appear phased by Oklahoma’s confusing 3-4 pass rushes, and they opened up wide running lanes against one of the toughest run defenses in the country. Penalties are becoming a real problem, however.

Senior center Tom Farniok is the rock in the middle of the offensive line. However, any head coach is quick to point out the offensive line has to be evaluated as a unit. Farniok’s cohorts have struggled overall. The Cyclones have ceded 13 sacks, and their rushers are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.

DL

Advantage: Texas

Senior defensive end Cedric Reed has shown signs of life recently, but he needs to start getting to the quarterback if he wants to revive his draft stock. Defensive tackles — sophomore Hassan Ridgeway and junior Malcom Brown — have held their own against some of the best inside running teams in the country.

The Cyclone defensive line’s struggles have allowed opposing rushers to pick up 212 yards per game, but it makes up for some of that by getting solid pressure on the quarterback. Senior defensive end Cory Morrissey has already recorded four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss.  

LB

Advantage: Texas

It’s hard to believe this unit is the same one that was embarrassingly inept against the run in Texas’ contest with BYU, as well as in most contests last season. Some harsh words from defensive coordinator Vance Bedford may have hit the mark. Senior outside linebacker Jordan Hicks has been particularly brilliant in recent weeks.

Senior mike linebacker Jevohn Miller is the best player in a unit that has struggled against the Big 12’s high-octane attacks. Miller’s 10.2 tackles per game are third best in the Big 12, but he will have to start making those a lot closer to the line of scrimmage in order to upset the Longhorns at home.

DB

Advantage: Texas

The Longhorn secondary has been shooting down opposing air attacks. Oklahoma threw for just 129 yards, and Bryce Petty, Baylor’s senior quarterback and supposed Heisman candidate, could only muster 111 yards through the air. The safeties have been shaky at times, but the corners — senior Quandre Diggs and junior Duke Thomas — have bailed them out with solid man-to-man coverage.

The Iowa State secondary has held opponents to 234.3 passing yards per game despite having faced some of the best offenses in the nation. The Cyclones have forced four interceptions in their last four contests, and cornerbacks — junior Sam Richardson and sophomore T.J. Mutcherson will be looking for more against the Longhorns’ short passing game.

ST

Advantage: Iowa State

Redshirt senior Jarvis West can wreak havoc in the return game. West is averaging 23.6 yards per punt return, including an 82-yard score against Kansas State. Redshirt sophomore kicker Cole Netten is a consistent 15-for-16 inside 40 yards in his career and has yet to miss a kick this season.

Missed field goals are irritating, and junior Nick Rose has shanked them in bountiful numbers. Texas needs every point it can get when its offense is sputtering. Kick return touchdowns, field goal block returns for touchdowns and bone-headed kick catch interference penalties have cost Texas the chance to upset a few of the nation’s best teams.

President Barack Obama promised to work to increase equality with or without congressional help in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Obama said he plans to increase students’ access to higher education and said Congress should restore education funding to keep the U.S. economy competitive.

“Federally funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones,” Obama said. “That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research.”

History professor Jeremi Suri said he thinks Obama’s main goal is to increase equality.

“He wanted to make the case that he is working to increase equality and help those who have been left out in the gains made in the last few years,” Suri said. “That includes women, that includes immigrants.”

The speech follows Obama’s announcement of an executive order raising the federal minimum wage for government contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10.

Government professor Bruce Buchanan said Obama may use his power of executive order if he is unable to successfully pass bills through Congress.

“I think that he’s making [the executive order] because it’s part of his general sense that there needs to be opportunity for those on the low end of the spectrum and also because it’s going to be kind of a centerpiece of his new strategy of using executive orders since Congress is unresponsive to his request for legislation,” Buchanan said.

Sam Richardson, public affairs assistant professor, said he thinks Obama’s speech was unlike many of his other speeches.

“My sense of the speech was that it was [a] less providing sort of a grand vision like Obama sometimes does with his speeches,” Richardson said. “It was fairly short on specifics on what he was hoping Congress would do, and I think that was because he realizes that he does not have the support of Congress to push through that agenda.”

Richardson said he thought Obama would discuss the Affordable Care Act in greater depth.

“I was expecting that [the Affordable Care Act] would be a little more prominent than it was,” Richardson said. “I was surprised that he didn’t acknowledge or apologize for the botched rollout of the website.”

Richardson said users of the website still encounter issues and people who tried to sign up for coverage may not be insured.

“It’s clear that the website is not fully working and there are still challenges,” Richardson said. “There are going to be questions that come up about people who thought they were covered,” Richardson said. “Maybe their information didn’t go through the website.”

Suri said Obama avoided discussing issues such as the Affordable Care Act in more depth because it’s more difficult for him to claim control over those issues. Suri said Obama may have been intentionally vague when discussing individual privacy and the role of agencies such as the National Security Agency.

“I think he’s walking a fine line — he wants Americans to believe that he will protect their privacy,” Suri said. “At the same time, he wants to preserve the ability of these agencies to do their job.”

Suri said Obama implied he will go around Congress if he has to in order to increase equality for groups.

“He’s implying to his opponents that those at the top have done really well,” Suri said. “I do think that his clear and direct appeal to women is very important, and he did it on the basis of economic equality and on the argument that women need more voice in politics.”

Sam Richardson, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, along with other LBJ School professors teach the course “Enrolling in Health Insurance Through the Affordable Care Act: An Austin Case Study.” A requirement for first year master’s students, the course examines the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Texas and issues with the program’s enrollment website.

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

The Policy Research Project, a required graduate course ranging in topics as diverse as children’s welfare and lobbying in the Texas legislature, has introduced a new core topic for the 2013-2014 school year — the Affordable Care Act.

The two-semester course, “Enrolling in Health Insurance Through the Affordable Care Act: An Austin Case Study,” is the latest Policy Research Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The course primarily aims to put together a study of how Texas is implementing the Affordable Care Act, according to public affairs professor David Warner.

“Policy Research Projects are a core course that are policy-related and involve student research,” Warner said. “This is the first on the ACA, but they range from transportation policy for the state to diabetes policy and maternal and child health on the US-Mexico border.”

Despite political controversies surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including a related government shutdown last month, LBJ assistant professor Sam Richardson said the goal of the project is not to make politicized recommendations.

“The purpose of the study is not to say what should happen, but to provide a scrupulously evenhanded explanation over time of what is happening,” Richardson said.

Warner said the study is part of a national effort to study the implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace conducted by a network of field research analysts in 27 states.

Richardson said the project will have two interrelated parts. The first will focus on analysis of the state’s readiness to implement the Affordable Care Act and will examine the availability of the marketplace. The second focuses on the initial workings of the exchanges themselves.

Warner said students this spring will do a more in-depth analysis of how the online insurance market initially worked out in the state. In order to get a better picture of how the ACA is unfolding, all of the members of the class have become certified application counselors and are volunteering with Foundation Communities, an organization focused on getting low-income Texans enrolled in new insurance plans through the website.

“The students in the class will have a publication that will be part of a national analysis of the implementation [and will] have learned a great deal about the health insurance system and the state government,” Warner said.

Graduate student Jane Vance, who is currently enrolled in the course, said the format departs from the standard graduate class.

“[This] isn’t a standard lecture-based course,” Vance said. 

QB Sam Richardson (Sr.)

Cyclones’ starting quarterback Sam Richardson has taken all but one snap for the team this season, making him perhaps the most important player to watch on this Iowa State offense. Richardson is an experienced signal-caller who has passed for 757 yards and seven touchdowns in three games this season. He has completed 62.5 percent of his passes this season and is averaging 252.3 passing yards per game which accounts for over half of the Cyclones production every contest. The Longhorns should get pressure in the backfield with their defensive line but beware of Richardson’s scrambling ability as he has rushed for 111 yards on 43 carries. He’s a tall and athletic quarterback who makes plays from the pocket and scrambling with the football and Texas needs to focus all its attention on him when the Cyclones have the football.

 

DB Jacques Washington (Sr.)

Washington is the leading tackler on the Iowa State defense despite being its best defensive back so far this season. He has recorded 31 tackles and broken up one pass. Washington is a big player on the back line of the Cyclones defense and finds the football and doesn’t miss many tackles when he gets the chance to hit someone. Texas should be able to hold him at bay by running the football away from Washington to set up passes when the defense is off balance. Iowa State ranks No. 66 in points allowed per game this season while the Longhorns are No. 57 in points scored per game. The game should be even from a production standpoint but Texas will need to marginalize Washington to be able to attack the defense more efficiently.

 

WR Quenton Bundrage (So.)

Although Bundrage has had an average season so far, his big game came against Iowa, the best team the Cyclones have played this season. Bundrage has hauled in 13 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns this season, with 146 of those yards and all three touchdowns coming against the Hawkeyes in Week 2. Bunrage is a tall receiver who could exploit the Longhorns defense deep if they get on their heels. He’s not a particularly speedy guy but he makes the most of his opportunities as evidenced by him averaging 14.3 yards per catch this year. He has almost equaled his production from all of last season and could have a big game against Texas like Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett (13 catches, 237 yards). 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Texas will travel to Ames, Iowa, this week to face a renewed Iowa State football team coming off its first win of the season, a 38-21 victory against Tulsa last Thursday. The Cyclones improved to 1-2 after losing two in-state battles to Northern Iowa and Iowa by a combined total of 14 points. Paul Rhoads’ team is set to open conference play with a home game against Texas on Thursday night — a rarity for the Longhorns apart from Thanksgiving Day.

Since 2010, Rhoads and his team have lost two of three games against the Longhorns with their only win coming on the road in Austin. In the victory over Tulsa, Cyclone sophomore quarterback, Sam Richardson, completed 26 of 41 passes for 255 yards and two scores while Aaron Wimberly had a breakthrough performance with 137 yards rushing on 19 carries. With both teams’ quarterbacks recovering from recent injuries — Ash exacerbated an earlier concussion and Richardson is nursing a sprained right ankle — both sophomore running back Johnathan Gray and Wimberly could see more carries Thursday in an attempt to relieve pressure on the passing game and open up the field. Here is how the teams stack up on both sides of the ball:

OFFENSIVE ADVANTAGE: 

Longhorns

Texas ranks fifth in ESPN’s Big 12 power rankings while Iowa State stands ninth, just ahead of Kansas who has only accounted for a mere seven touchdowns through three games. Quarterback David Ash, listed as day-to-day with a head injury, is third in the Big 12 in total offense, Richardson seventh. Gray ranks third in rushing offense. The good news for Rhoads’ squad is that the Cyclones lead the conference in red zone offense, converting seven touchdowns on a perfect 9-9 passing.    

DEFENSIVE ADVANTAGE:  

Cyclones

Coming into this week’s matchup, the Cyclones maintain an edge over Texas in scoring and rushing defense as well as total defense, three categories in which the Longhorns ranked last in the Big 12 through Saturday. Iowa State is limiting opponents to 77.8 percent scoring from 20 yards out while the Longhorns have allowed 14 touchdowns in four contests, with opponents averaging 28 points per game. The good news for the Longhorns is that a flawless defensive display may not be necessary given the relative weakness of the Cyclone receivers.

Thursday’s game will set the tone for both teams moving forward in the Big 12 competition. Texas’ conference title aspirations could hinge on whether it arrives in Ames ready to play, lest it prefers a repeat of the Brigham Young University game in which the Cougars scorched the Longhorn defense for record yardage.