Author Archives: Pia Christensen

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.

Acronyms, health care and the poor: Understanding hospital safety net payments

Joanne Kenen

The months-long controversy between Florida and the federal Medicaid program over funding for hospitals and clinics that serve uninsured low-income people drew attention to these uncompensated care pools. In Florida the arrangement is called the Low-Income Pool – better known as “LIP” (a gift to headline writers).

So what are these payments? And how do they differ from a Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) arrangement?

At least nine states, including Florida, have some kind of Medicaid waiver arrangement with the federal government that involves payments to safety net hospitals and, in at least some states, community health centers.

Joanne Kenen, AHCJ’s core topic leader on health reform, explains in a new tip sheet. Read more.

Get a jump on covering 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid

Bob Rosenblatt

Bob Rosenblatt

The 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid is July 30.

Over the years, these programs have evolved from basic safety nets to comprehensive care models designed to improve quality and offer affordable health care for millions. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about 55 million Americans have Medicare this year and more than 70 million have Medicaid in any given month

Bob Rosenblatt, a veteran at reporting on issues around aging, has put together a tip sheet with background on the Medicare program and some things to consider as you plan coverage of the anniversary. It includes story ideas and useful links as well as contact information for sources.

Surgeons’ complication rates become public with new database

Whether consumers are choosing a car, a household appliance or even a nursing home, there are ratings and reviews available to make the best choice. But patients are often blind when choosing a surgeon.

Surgeon Scorecard, a database released by ProPublica this week helps shed some light on that area with an analysis of death and complication rates for nearly 17,000 U.S. surgeons for eight common surgical procedures. This is the first time this information has been available to the public. Continue reading

New AHCJ board members elected for 2015-16

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

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

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

Vote for AHCJ’s board of directors

Image: FutUndBeidl via Flickr

The voting period for AHCJ’s board of directors has opened and a link to the ballot has been emailed to qualified AHCJ members. Voting will remain open until June 25.

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

Covering how King v. Burwell decision could affect subsidies

Lauren Sausser

Lauren Sausser

Lauren Sausser of The Post and Courier in South Carolina was surprised by an email from a reader asking her to write more about Medicaid expansion in South Carolina – specifically, the state’s refusal to expand the low-income health insurance program under the Affordable Care Act.

This year, health insurance subsidies have played a much more prominent role in The Post and Courier’s health care coverage. Like other news outlets, her newspaper is waiting to find out what the Supreme Court decides in King v. Burwell. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, subsidies will end in states using the federal exchange.

In South Carolina, a King victory would mean that coverage will become unaffordable for an estimated 200,000 people who have purchased subsidized policies through the federal insurance marketplace. It’s been a big story. Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion, with a few exceptions, is relatively stagnant there.

Read more about her reporting on the topic.

Latest jobs, awards and other news about AHCJ members

The latest report on AHCJ members’ awards, fellowships, job changes and other news includes Alicia F. Ault, Eileen Beal, Sheri Fink, Kenny Goldberg, Markian Hawryluk, Sandra Jordan, Bridget M. Kuehn, Meryl Lin McKean, Ivan Oransky, Paul Raeburn, Gabriel Sanchez, Fred Schulte, Gary Schwitzer, Liz Seegert, Karl Stark, Stephanie Stephens and Marijke Vroomen Durning. Continue reading

Eight-part series on hepatitis C finds unique moment in an epidemic

Kristin Espeland Gourlay

Kristin Espeland Gourlay

While working on a documentary about opioid addiction, Kristin Espeland Gourlay, the health care reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio, discovered there was another story waiting to be covered: hepatitis C.

She writes that new drugs had hit the market with reported cure rates of 95 percent or more, but they cost upwards of $90,000 for a full course. She found that the arrival of these new drugs coincides with another trend: Millions of baby boomers who contracted the disease decades ago are just now showing up in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, sick with something most didn’t know they had.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Add to that a wave of new infections, spreading among younger injection drug users – people who got hooked on opioids and then turned to heroin – and she found that it was a unique moment in the history of an epidemic.

In this AHCJ article, she shares what she learned, what sources she used, as well as a list of potential story ideas. As she points out, this epidemic will impact many lives but also state budgets.

Read how she did her reporting and what she learned.