Since Sunday’s horrific shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured 53 patrons at the Pulse night club, journalists have been asking whether the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) limits what hospital administrators can say about a patient’s condition.
Yes, database websites can seem clunky, and government data can seem hopelessly riddled with errors.
But searching, downloading and analyzing it – specifically EPA records on drinking water – led USA Today to a blockbuster front-page story that not only drew attention to the threat of lead contamination beyond the crisis in Flint, Mich., but also stirred residents to action.
Health journalists seeking information from government agencies often encounter obstacles, especially at the federal level, according to AHCJ’s recent survey. The biggest roadblocks involve delays, bureaucracy, scripted replies, and barriers to interviews, survey respondents said.
Three-quarters said it is difficult to get the information they need from the federal government, and two-thirds reported difficulty getting adequate responses from state government. Continue reading
In a report last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office confirmed what Fred Schulte and other journalists at the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) have been reporting on the Medicare Advantage program for two years.
In the report, “Medicare Advantage Fundamental Improvements Needed in CMS’ Effort to Recover Substantial Amounts of Improper Payments,” the GAO showed that CMS estimated that it improperly paid $14.1 billion in 2013 to insurers running Medicare Advantage plans. Continue reading
Repeatedly getting “No comment” from anyone you speak to.
Encountering a spokesperson who has no interest in building a relationship but, instead, serves as a barrier.
These issues – and how to address them – were discussed at the “Access Denied: How to get the story anyway” panel Thursday at Health Journalism 2016.
Veteran journalists shared how to best navigate the many challenges that journalists face. Continue reading