Maine journalists wrestle with distinguishing news from promotion in medical crowdfunding

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Troy R. Bennett/BDNWhen Maine resident Christine Royles went to the Internet to pay for a kidney transplant, her crowdfunding campaign also raised ethical concerns for a local newspaper.

Troy R. Bennett/BDNWhen Maine resident Christine Royles went to the Internet to pay for a kidney transplant, her crowdfunding campaign also raised ethical concerns for a local newspaper.

When the health insurance system fails — as it does too often — patients in need frequently turn to crowdfunding to raise cash to cover their medical expenses. Most such requests are so loaded with pathos and emotion that stories about them often end up on Page 1.

But when Jackie Farwell, enterprise editor for the Bangor Daily News, wrote about a young mother from South Portland, Maine, who needed a kidney donation, she also delved into some of the ethical questions involved when media cover crowdfunding campaigns. Continue reading

Helping Lakota elders with advance care planning

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Mary IsaacsonPowwows provide a good venue for Pine Ridge elders to discuss advanced care planning and wills.

Photo: Mary IsaacsonPowwows provide a good venue for Pine Ridge elders to discuss advanced care planning and wills.

A unique outreach program is helping elders of the Lakota nation to address issues of palliative and end of life care among residents of reservations throughout South Dakota. The program incorporates culturally appropriate language and uses peer educators to promote advance care planning and wills.

When Mary Isaacson, an assistant nursing professor at South Dakota State University, began exploring the issue with older adults from the Pine Ridge reservation in 2014, she found an overwhelming need for education and materials. Within a year, Pine Ridge elders Patricia Catches The Enemy, Valaria Red Cloud and Garfield Apple collaborated with Isaacson to develop a Lakota-specific advanced directive brochure and received training to be advance directive coaches. While attending events, such as powwows and flea markets, and visiting community centers where elder meals are served, they hope to start conversations about advanced care planning and wills. Continue reading

Feds turn attention to health, drug use in rural America

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Photo:  Day's End via FlickrThe White House announced a federal effort aimed at collaboration among U.S. agencies to tackle rural health, including drug use.

Photo:  Day’s End via FlickrThe White House announced a federal effort aimed at collaboration among U.S. agencies to tackle rural health, including drug use.

As U.S. President Barack Obama heads into his final year in office, his administration is deploying a collaborative effort between U.S. agencies to tackle suicide, stress, mental health and drug use in rural America, according to reports.

Headed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the initiative will focus in particular on combating the heroin epidemic facing the nation’s poorer, rural areas, The Washington Post reported. Continue reading

Fact-checking Cruz’s claims that Obamacare left him uninsured

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz, as you may have heard, said on the campaign trail in late January that he didn’t have health insurance. And that his wife was pretty ticked off about it.

A few days later, his office said he and his family were, in fact, insured. As fellow Texan president hopeful Rick Perry once said – OOPS.

But it’s not really funny. Continue reading

How the ACA may be helping to close the ‘race gap’

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Chris Flavelle of Bloomberg View points out an unheralded achievement of the Affordable Care Act: It’s narrowing the race gap in health insurance.

In a recent opinion column summarizing research on insurance disparities and the ACA by Algernon Austin at the Center for Global Policy Solutions, Flavelle wrote: Continue reading