Notes and quotes from King v. Burwell decision

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.

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

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.

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

Things to keep in mind as we anticipate the King v. Burwell ruling

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.

Photo by dbking via Flickr

Photo by dbking via Flickr

We’ve put up a tip sheet and written about the King v. Burwell case, but now that the ruling is imminent, we wanted to bring one more good one-stop-shopping resource to your attention and share a few tips.

The Alliance for Health Reform has issued a very good four-page tool kit – links to background articles, think tank papers, issue briefs and lots of sources. One caveat – it says that 7.5 million are subsidized in the affected states but the most recent government numbers are 6.4 million.

Other things to remember

There are 37 states using HealthCare.gov (with Hawaii, soon 38). But the reason you keep reading that 34 states are affected is that 34 are federal exchanges. Continue reading

Percentage of adult Americans with cavities remains high, study notes

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 ktpupp via Flickr.

Although tooth decay and tooth loss have been declining in recent decades, more than nine of 10 working-age Americans have cavities in permanent teeth, a new federal report shows.

“Among adults aged 20-64, 91 percent had caries and 27 percent had untreated tooth decay,” conclude the authors of a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The data were drawn from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The survey, really an ongoing series of surveys, serves as a major tool for assessing the status of the nation’s oral health. NHANES’ size and depth make it unique. The study combines face-to-face interviews and physical examinations of a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people each year. The work is overseen by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

The reality of rural care: Covering the divide and distance

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: Len Bruzzese/AHCJMore than 60 people attended AHCJ's Rural Health Journalism Workshop on June 19 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJMore than 70 people attended AHCJ’s Rural Health Journalism Workshop on June 19 in Fort Worth, Texas.

At a glance, the Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t seem so remote. Touching down in northern Texas, there’s a glut of restaurants, a Starbucks (there’s always a Starbucks) and, soon, a maze of highways.

But head from the airport to AHCJ’s Rural Health Journalism Workshop (#ruralhealth15) in downtown Fort Worth, and one of the major health care challenges facing non-urban areas quickly becomes clear: distance. On the road from Dallas to Fort Worth stretch miles of pavement. One Texas injury clinic along the way doesn’t look much different than the auto shops and loan stores it is sandwiched between along the busy route.

In fact, this metropolitan region was the model setting for the more than 70 people who attended the daylong program – a vast state with many isolated pockets close to Oklahoma and other states with similar challenges that can put rural residents at the bottom rung of the U.S. health care system. Continue reading

States, consumer groups take steps to help with ‘surprise’ medical bills

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 by Upupa4me via Flickr.

Amy Trent, a health care reporter for the News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., found an ideal source for an article about surprise medical bills. She wrote about Leighton Dodd, the 83-year-old former mayor of this city of 75,000 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Dodd, a cancer patient, in 2014 had seen the monthly cost of his chemotherapy treatment go from $5,800 in September to $16,124 in October. The reason: Centra Health made Dodd’s physician group an outpatient department.

While everything else about Dodd’s care was unchanged, the new owners of his oncology practice raised the cost of Dodd’s care by 278 percent. Dodd’s bill jumped sharply because of what are called site of service differential payments, which we covered last month in a tip sheet and last year in a blog post. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to eliminate these differential payments. Continue reading

Dallas TV station hasn’t let go of Medicaid dental fraud story

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.

Byron Harris and his colleagues at WFAA-Dallas have been reporting on Medicaid dental fraud in Texas for years.

Photo: WFAA

The allegations of widespread fraud and abuse related to braces for poor children first came to light in their 2011 Crooked Teeth investigation.

The “Crooked Teeth” stories revealed that Texas was spending more on Medicaid orthodontic services than the nation’s nine other most populous states combined. The reports raised questions about whether dentists were providing unneeded braces to Medicaid children and sending the program the bill.

Now, there’s a new chapter to the story. Federal officials have concluded the state owes $133 million for unnecessary dental work. Continue reading

Initiatives look at what makes a city ‘age-friendly’

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.

Photo by Royan Lee via Flickr.

Cities are great places to grow old, say aging and health policy experts, but most urban areas are not well-prepared for the surge in aging populations. Urban centers are already home to 54 percent of the general population and 56 percent of the 65-plus population in OECD nations. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Most of this increase is projected to occur in Asia and Africa. But many of those cities are not yet age-friendly.

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, New York City’s deputy mayor of health and human services, described efforts to make New York City a more age-friendly metropolis. There are currently 1.4 million New Yorkers over age 60; by 2030, that is expected to increase to about 1.8 million, or one-fifth of the city’s population.

“New York has always been a good place to age, and has become even more so over the past decade” she said. New York signed on to the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities Project in 2007 – a model that creates environments to improve healthy and active aging. Continue reading

Health care delivery reform and what it means in the delivery room

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.

Courtesy of Neel Shah, M.D.

Courtesy of Neel Shah, M.D.Health reformers are grappling with how to bring down the high rate of cesarean section deliveries in the United States. The U.S. isn’t the only country in the world overusing the procedure, but it does have one of the highest rates.

I recently heard Neel Shah, M.D., an obstetrician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the founder of Costs of Care, and associate faculty at Ariadne Labs (more about all of that here) speak about health care quality and delivering babies.

We’ve all heard about unnecessary cesarean sections (and elective induced early births, although that’s a related but not identical set of challenges). Many of us tend to think of it as a doctor-centered issue. Some doctors perform more C-sections than others and there are a host of reasons, ranging from how and where they were trained to how they assess and tolerate maternal risk to time management and financial considerations.

But Shah challenged me to think of unnecessary C-sections as a hospital management or system engineering problem – not just a problem created by individual doctors. Continue reading

AHCJ chapter hosts spring gathering of journalists, health communicators

Phil Galewitz

About Phil Galewitz

Phil Galewitz, a senior correspondent at Kaiser Health News, helps lead AHCJ's Washington, D.C., chapter. At KHN, he covers Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care, hospitals and state health issues. He is a former member of AHCJ's board of directors.

Photo: Phil Galewitz

Nearly 70 journalists and communications officials from patient advocacy and industry groups met for a rooftop happy hour event in Washington, D.C.,  on June 11. Continue reading