Category Archives: Social determinants

Health care debate shines light on Medicaid

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 determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Dmitriy via Flickr

One result of the ongoing health care reform debate – and the coverage of it – is a renewed look at Medicaid by both journalists and the public.

The joint federal-state government health insurance program is often thought of as simply serving the poor, but Republicans’ efforts to roll back Obamacare’s expansion of the coverage also opened up efforts to educate readers about other beneficiaries, according to some analysts.

Even as Republicans in the Senate appeared to run out of options this week, the debate over the program is likely to continue. Continue reading

For N.C. reporter, news brief led to series on solitary confinement, mental illness

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.

Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

In most states, care for those with behavioral health problems is so poor that the nation’s prisons have become the default treatment centers for many of the most vulnerable mental health patients. As Congress wrestles with plans to cut funding for Medicaid, many observers are calling for more coverage.

For an example of a mental health system that relies on state prisons, see the work of Taylor Knopf, a reporter for North Carolina Health News. In the spring of 2015, Knopf was working for the Raleigh News & Observer when an editor asked her to write a news brief about an effort to improve the state’s use of solitary confinement. Seeing an opportunity, Knopf made a few calls and did more than write a brief: Over the next year, she turned that assignment into a two-part series on how the prison system used solitary confinement to discipline inmates for even minor infractions.

In a new “How I Did It” article, Knopf writes about the series and how her reporting focused on one inmate’s struggle to adjust to life outside of prison after being held in solitary confinement for almost three years. Continue reading

Dental health advocates fear loss of coverage under GOP plan

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Thanks to progress credited to the Affordable Care Act, only about 11 percent of Americans lack health insurance. Yet approximately a third – more than 100 million – remain dentally uninsured, according to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP).

Dental coverage was never a major focus of the ACA. Still, some headway has been made in getting oral health benefits to more Americans since its passage. Continue reading

Localities turn to lawsuits in opioid fight

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 determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Jesse Loughborough via Flickr

As authorities search for ways to curb the nation’s opioid epidemic, an increasing number of localities are turning to a new venue: the courts.

States, counties, cities and even Native American tribes are taking legal aim at companies they see as helping to fuel the drug crisis. In recent months, lawsuits have been filed against drugmakers, pharmacies and drug distributors even as some legal experts have said such challenges could face hurdles. Continue reading

How will BCRA affect your community? Check out this resource

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.

A new tool from the Kaiser Family Foundation lets you see how the Senate health care bill (as it existed in late June) will affect your community.

It enables you look county-by-county at how premiums are tax credits will look in 2020 both under the Affordable Care Act and under the Senate’s proposed repeal and replace bill, Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Continue reading