A physician offers his view on the White House Conference on Aging

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.

Bruce Chernof, M.D.

Bruce Chernof, M.D.

Bruce Chernof, M.D., is a geriatrician, president of The SCAN Foundation, based in Long Beach, Calif., and a former chairman of the Federal Commission on Long Term Care. He was in the audience for last week’s White House Conference on Aging, listening from multiple perspectives. Overall, he said in a phone interview, he was pleased with the outcomes.

Q: What were your overall impressions of the conference?

A: It’s important the President was there and spoke up as forcefully as he did. We needed the President to take part in this conversation. It was a very interesting and different conference but I liked the underlying theme: how do we discuss and transform aging? Everyone likes to talk about the scary stuff first – the diseases, the falls, the dementia. There’s not enough focus on the positive aspects of aging, and that limits our ability to focus on everything older adults can and do contribute. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and serves on the executive committee of the Council of National Journalism Organizations.

Please welcome these new professional and student members to AHCJ. All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves.

  • Vik Adhopia, senior reporter, CBC News-Health Unit, Toronto Canada
  • Sara Champlin, Ph.D., The University of North Texas, Mayborn School of Journalism, Denton, Texas
  • Renee Despres, independent journalist, Silver City, N.M.
  • Amanda Gardner, independent journalist, Sandia Park, Calif.
  • Ted Griggs, reporter, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Maggy Hanlon, editor, HSAfinder.com, Scranton, Pa.
  • Scott Harvey, news director & content content coordinator, KSMU Radio, Springfield, Mo.
  • Mark McCarty, Washington editor, Medical Device Daily, Manassas, Va.
  • Kathleen McGrory, reporter, The Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • Emily Schmall, correspondent, The Associated Press, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Edgar Walters, reporter, The Texas Tribune, Austin, Texas

If you haven’t joined yet, see what member benefits you’re missing out on: Access to more than 50 journals and databases, tip sheets and articles from your colleagues on how they’ve reported stories, conferences, workshops, online training, reporting guides and more. Join AHCJ today to get a wealth of support and tools to help you.

Examining psychology, racism in wake of Charleston shooting

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.

Photo: CDC Public Health Image Library/Amanda MillsAn African-American boy is seen walking with a teacher in Atlanta.

Photo: CDC Public Health Image Library/Amanda MillsAn African-American boy is seen walking with a teacher in Atlanta.

“Our anxiety and fear is palpable,” New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham wrote recently.

Racism’s Psychological Toll,” written for The New York Times Magazine, highlights the emotional distress that victims of racially motivated aggression can feel and raises questions about the possible link to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The Q&A piece, along with several others, was part of the magazine’s look at racial violence in the wake of the June 17 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine people dead. After the shooting, a website linked to the white gunman charged in the shooting surfaced with a racial manifesto and photos of him with a Confederate flag.

Continue reading

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

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.

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.

Spotlight on sepsis: Reporting on ‘dirty little hospital horror’

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.

Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark

As senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media for more than six years, Cheryl Clark wrote more than 1,300 stories about hospitals’ efforts to improve quality and safety and related issues.

Rates of sepsis seemed to be one more dirty little hospital horror to explore, one that the Joint Commission said cost hospitals about $16.7 billion annually. Yet hospitals’ efforts to tackle it seemed hidden behind improvement initiatives attracting more attention, such as reducing hospital-acquired infections, and preventable readmissions, lowering emergency room wait times and raising patient experience scores.

The story she wrote for the June 2014 issue of HealthLeaders’ print magazine, on how U.S. hospitals are improving recognition and treatment of sepsis — which is diagnosed in 750,000 patients a year and kills 40 percent — won the 2015 National Institute of Health Care Management prize in the trade print category. They said the story was “most likely to save a life.”

In a new article for AHCJ, she explains how she did her reporting, despite a lack of data and sources who didn’t want to talk. Read more.

Reporting uncovered one of Texas’ largest Medicaid scandals

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.

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

The tip about troubles in Texas’ Medicaid dental system was part of a routine conversation. But it was enough to make reporter Byron Harris start digging.

He and his colleagues at WFAA-Dallas spent nine months scrutinizing data, wearing out shoe leather, following up on leads and trying to get people to talk.

In  2011, the “Crooked Teeth” stories raised profoundly troubling questions about oversight of the Medicaid dental program in Texas; the millions upon millions spent on orthodontic services for beneficiaries; the suspect billing practices of many providers. The 11-part investigative series uncovered one of the largest Medicaid scandals in the history of Texas. Government audits, reform efforts and lawsuits followed in its wake.

Harris continues reporting on the issue. He recently filed another story after federal officials concluded that the state owes $133 million for unnecessary dental work. “Texas paid $191,410,707 for unallowable orthodontic services from 2008 through 2010, according to a federal investigation,” Harris told viewers on June 3. “And officials say the federal government now wants a large portion of that money back.”

In this “How I Did It” article, Harris takes us back to the very beginning of “Crooked Teeth.” He explains how the project began, and how it unfolded. He also shares some wisdom on how to use data to follow up on a tip.

Fellowships on medical research can take your reporting further

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

One of the best ways to become skilled in reporting on medical research is to immerse yourself in the experience of learning from the experts. That is precisely what two different fellowships offered by AHCJ will provide to applicants selected to participate in early fall.

The AHCJ-National Library of Medicine Health Journalism Fellowship and the AHCJ Fellowship on Comparative Effectiveness, supported by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, both provide travel expenses (within the U.S.), lodging and a food stipend for a full week of specialized learning. A membership (or renewal) to AHCJ is included as well.

These fellowships – basically immersive, hands-on workshops – are ideal for greenhorns and veterans. If you have never used a medical study to report a story, or if you read a half dozen of them each week, each of these provide an opportunity for you to take your reporting a step further. Continue reading

Closure of struggling Arizona clinic highlights challenges for low-income dental patients

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 via Ace Armstrong  Flicker.

Photo by via Ace Armstrong Flicker.

Getting dental care was already hard for low-income adults in Arizona.

Now officials in Coconino County have reluctantly announced their decision to close a dental clinic that has long served the poor and uninsured.

County officials say they are considering a plan to provide vouchers so patients can seek care elsewhere. But there is no guarantee the voucher program will be in place by the time the clinic closes on Sept. 30.

And other questions remain: What services will be covered by the vouchers? Which dentists will accept them? Continue reading

Tribal leaders take new approach to improving dental health

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: National Congress of American IndiansBrian Cladoosby

Photo: National Congress of American IndiansBrian Cladoosby

The Seattle Times last month profiled tribal leader Brian Cladoosby, a longtime leader of Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, which has a reservation on Puget Sound. He also is serving a second year as president of the National Congress of American Indians.

The story, by Times’ outdoor editor Brian J. Cantwell, opens with a scene of Cladoosby fishing for king salmon on the Skagit River. The piece goes on to explore Cladoosby’s outspoken defense of salmon habitats and tribal sovereignity, his colorful, sometimes controversial leadership style and his willingness to go to court to win his battles. Continue reading

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

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.

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.