Category Archives: Right to know

GAO confirms Center for Public Integrity’s findings on Medicare Advantage overspending

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.

Fred Schulte

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

Access denied? Look for other, sometimes less traditional, ways to find sources #FOIAFriday #AHCJ16

Jaclyn Cosgrove

About Jaclyn Cosgrove

Jaclyn Cosgrove is a medical and health reporter at The Oklahoman. She is attending Health Journalism 2016 on an AHCJ Rural Health Journalism fellowship, which is supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

HHS-press-conferenceA Freedom of Information request that takes weeks, if not months, to receive.

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

How the Flint water crisis has further exposed health disparities

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.

A water crisis brewing in Flint, Mich., for nearly two years exposed children and others to lead from contaminated water. It also exposed health disparities from infrastructure. Glass of Water via photopin (license)

A water crisis brewing in Flint, Mich., for nearly two years exposed children and others to lead from contaminated water. It also exposed health disparities from infrastructure. Glass of Water via photopin (license)

The ongoing water quality crisis in Flint, Mich., highlights many public health issues, but shines its brightest light on health disparities, too.

Residents of the struggling community, about an hour northwest of Detroit, began complaining about problems with their tap water almost as soon as the city – under the control of a state manager – began pumping water from Flint River to fill the gap after switching providers in 2013.

It’s something that would have never happened in one of Detroit’s wealthier, leafy suburbs, according to Nancy Kaffer, a political columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Continue reading

Weaving data, human stories into compelling series on dental deaths

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.

Brooks Egerton

Brooks Egerton

In early 2014, a 4-year-old Dallas boy named Salomon Barahona Jr. died after undergoing sedation for a dental procedure.

The child’s death spurred Dallas Morning News reporter Brooks Egerton to embark upon what turned out to be a major reporting project – an 18-month investigation of dental safety in the United States.

Egerton sifted through thousands of records detailing patient harm and endangerment drawn from many sources: state and federal regulators, police, coroners, academic researchers, courts, litigators, insurers, dental schools and dentists themselves. Continue reading

HHS to recognize AHCJ membership as credential for press events

Irene M. Wielawski

About Irene M. Wielawski

Irene M. Wielawski (@wielawski), a founding member of AHCJ, is an independent writer and editor specializing in health care and policy. Wielawski, a member of AHCJ's board of directors, is chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee and serves on the Freelance and the Finance and Development committees.

HHS-press-conferenceThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to recognize membership in the Association of Health Care Journalists as sufficient credential for any media briefing or press event sponsored by HHS or its agencies.

The HHS recognition provides a powerful lever for AHCJ members, especially freelancers, when they encounter obstacles to obtaining credentials at medical society and scientific meetings. Now members can point out that the federal government considers AHCJ membership adequate proof of a reporter’s legitimacy.

Representing AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, Vice Chair Felice J. Freyer and I brokered the agreement in one of our periodic problem-solving calls with the HHS public affairs leadership. Continue reading