Watchdog reporter takes on dental therapist access issue

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

Photo: Legislative Support ServicesBrian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, speaks at the February 22 bill signing for Washington state’s SB 5079 which increases access to affordable dental care. Behind him are Sen. John McCoy, left, and Gov. Jay Inslee, right.

Kathy Hoekstra’s beat covering national regulatory issues for the public interest news organization, now has led her to America’s dental divide.

In recent months, Hoekstra has focused on the legal angle to examine the dental therapist debate now roiling in statehouses across the country.

Dental therapists often are compared to nurse practitioners in the medical world. Trained in a narrow range of preventive and restorative procedures and employed in some countries around the globe, they have attracted supporters among U.S. oral health advocates who see the speciality as an affordable means to expand access to dental services for millions of Americans who currently lack routine care. Continue reading

Services enabling disabled to live more mainstreamed life may fall prey to GOP reforms

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 She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at

Photo: Alexander Edward via Flickr

Medicaid is a lifeline for the disabled. As Jonathan Cohn explains, the current Washington debate over Medicaid’s future has profound and often overlooked implications.

Right now much of the Washington policy fight centers on how quickly – when, but not if – the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act would get rolled back under Republican repeal-and-replace bills. As we’ve pointed out before, there’s a lot less attention being paid to Republican proposals to cap Medicaid spending – to put an end to its open-ended federal entitlement funding. The Senate Republicans are arguing over what rate the spending would grow (there are a few different ways of measuring inflation and medical inflation….). They are not debating whether or not to make this fundamental change – which the Democrats all oppose. Continue reading

Senate plans quicker action than House on its health care reform bill

Deborah Crowe

About Deborah Crowe

Deborah Crowe (@dcrowe60) is an independent journalist, longtime AHCJ member and copy editor for She can be reached at

If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, the Senate’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace process will be a disciplined and at-times clandestine whirlwind romance, culminating in a shotgun wedding. The goal: have the landmark legislation ready for President Trump’s signature by the time Congress breaks for the Independence Day holiday. Continue reading

Health plan execs fear Senate version of AHCA would gut Medicaid

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

Photo: Tax Credits via Flickr

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill unveiled Thursday, would do little to promote better care via Medicaid, the federal-state partnership program that insures 75 million primarily low-income Americans that include children, the disabled and certain seniors, according to some insurers that specialize in Medicaid coverage. Continue reading

FDA moves on digital health innovation

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

Photo by Tim Gee via Flickr

Photo by Tim Gee via Flickr

Last week’s blog post by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., is providing digital health innovators with a new roadmap to navigate pre- and post-market federal oversight of their products.

The topline for journalists is that in the coming months, the FDA will publish new guidance on digital health products and launch programs to monitor the industry, according to the blog post.  Key timeframes and details, culled from Gottlieb’s post: Continue reading