Things to keep in mind about the King v. Burwell SCOTUS ruling

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.

  • The court ruled that the subsidies were integral to the functioning of insurance markets under the ACA, and that Congress constructed the law with that in mind. The Court did not use an alternative legal argument to uphold the subsidies – saying that the law was ambiguous but the executive branch (in this case the IRS) had the right to interpret it so that subsidies are available in both state and federal exchanges. This is not a minor distinction – that latter interpretation (used by one of the lower courts) would have meant that a future administration could come in and change the subsidy policy. The 6-3 court ruling bars a future administration from doing so. (A future Congress could still change the law regarding subsidies but a future administration couldn’t just flip a switch and stop them.) Continue reading

Reaching rural populations and providers: more from #ruralhealth15

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington-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 health reform resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Medical student Russell Stanley (left) and Dr. Kevin Blanton (right) share the stresses and triumphs of providing care in rural settings at AHCJ’s June 19 Rural Health Workshop.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJMedical student Russell Stanley (left) and Dr. Kevin Blanton (right) share the stresses and triumphs of providing care in rural settings at AHCJ’s June 19 Rural Health Journalism Workshop.

Distance dominated much of the conversation at AHCJ’s recent Rural Health Journalism Workshop in Fort Worth, Texas, a vast state with wide open spaces and far-flung cities.

While such expanses can offer a quiet alternative to urban areas, panelists at #ruralhealth15 also noted that such isolation can impact not only health, but education and other community resources. And that can present another challenge: attracting health professions to rural pockets to provide needed care for residents. Continue reading

New report ranks best, worst states for older women’s health

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 by pingnews via Flickr.

Photo by pingnews via Flickr.

Want to stay healthy as you age? Move to Minnesota. Or perhaps Hawaii. These states rank number one and two in a new report on the health status of women. Minnesota was tops in the nation with an “A-“ on a composite index of women’s health and well-being, according to research compiled by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The North Star State has the lowest female mortality rate from heart disease and ranks in or near the top ten almost all of the other nine component nine indicators covering chronic disease, sexual health, mental and physical health.

States in the South have the lowest composite scores on women’s health status. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia were rated most poorly, with grades of “F” or “D-.” Continue reading

Experts stress increased need for more long-term care initiatives, funding

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.

caregiving-2In a run-up to the July 13 White House Conference on Aging, (WHCOA) policy experts are stressing the need for increased funding for long-term services and supports (LTSS).

G. Lawrence Atkins, Ph.D. executive director, Long-Term Quality Alliance and president, National Academy of Social Insurance, reviewed key lessons from the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care and aging services innovations to frame future care delivery.

Atkins is the former chair of the commission, which issued a comprehensive report in 2013 calling for more funding and services for care and caregivers of older adults. About 78 percent of adults over age 65 has some type of unmet care need, requiring help with independent household activities of daily living. More than a quarter of older adults rely on outside help; 75 percent turn to family members to help meet their needs. Continue reading

New AHCJ board members elected for 2015-16

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Jeanne Erdmann and Mary Shedden

Jeanne Erdmann and Mary Shedden

Jeanne Erdmann, an independent journalist based in Missouri, and Mary Shedden, editor of Health News Florida, join four incumbents in being seated on the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2015-16 board of directors.

Incumbents starting a new two-year term include AHCJ President Karl Stark, of The Philadelphia Inquirer; AHCJ Treasurer Felice J. Freyer, of The Boston Globe; Gideon Gil, of The Boston Globe; and Maryn McKenna, an Atlanta-based independent journalist.

Read more about AHCJ’s board.

Notes and quotes from King v. Burwell decision

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Roberts Court (2010-) - The Oyez Project) (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Roberts Court (2010-) – The Oyez Project) (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

Here are just a few notes, key quotes and links to coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.

The decision is here.

The phrase “death spiral” appears three times in the majority opinion. Also from the majority opinion: Continue reading

Last chance to vote for AHCJ’s board of directors

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Image: FutUndBeidl via Flickr

The voting period for AHCJ’s board of directors will close at noon Central time today. A link to the ballot was emailed to all qualified AHCJ members.

Each year, members in AHCJ’s professional category elect members of the board. Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms.

The nine candidates have offered outlines of their background and their vision for the organization. Those statements are available for members to review.

Continue reading

Things to keep in mind as we anticipate the King v. Burwell ruling

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.

Photo by dbking via Flickr

Photo by dbking via Flickr

We’ve put up a tip sheet and written about the King v. Burwell case, but now that the ruling is imminent, we wanted to bring one more good one-stop-shopping resource to your attention and share a few tips.

The Alliance for Health Reform has issued a very good four-page tool kit – links to background articles, think tank papers, issue briefs and lots of sources. One caveat – it says that 7.5 million are subsidized in the affected states but the most recent government numbers are 6.4 million.

Other things to remember

There are 37 states using HealthCare.gov (with Hawaii, soon 38). But the reason you keep reading that 34 states are affected is that 34 are federal exchanges. Continue reading

Percentage of adult Americans with cavities remains high, study notes

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by ktpupp via Flickr.

Although tooth decay and tooth loss have been declining in recent decades, more than nine of 10 working-age Americans have cavities in permanent teeth, a new federal report shows.

“Among adults aged 20-64, 91 percent had caries and 27 percent had untreated tooth decay,” conclude the authors of a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The data were drawn from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The survey, really an ongoing series of surveys, serves as a major tool for assessing the status of the nation’s oral health. NHANES’ size and depth make it unique. The study combines face-to-face interviews and physical examinations of a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people each year. The work is overseen by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

The reality of rural care: Covering the divide and distance

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington-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 health reform resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJMore than 60 people attended AHCJ's Rural Health Journalism Workshop on June 19 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJMore than 70 people attended AHCJ’s Rural Health Journalism Workshop on June 19 in Fort Worth, Texas.

At a glance, the Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t seem so remote. Touching down in northern Texas, there’s a glut of restaurants, a Starbucks (there’s always a Starbucks) and, soon, a maze of highways.

But head from the airport to AHCJ’s Rural Health Journalism Workshop (#ruralhealth15) in downtown Fort Worth, and one of the major health care challenges facing non-urban areas quickly becomes clear: distance. On the road from Dallas to Fort Worth stretch miles of pavement. One Texas injury clinic along the way doesn’t look much different than the auto shops and loan stores it is sandwiched between along the busy route.

In fact, this metropolitan region was the model setting for the more than 70 people who attended the daylong program – a vast state with many isolated pockets close to Oklahoma and other states with similar challenges that can put rural residents at the bottom rung of the U.S. health care system. Continue reading