Native American tribe wields sales tax to promote healthier eating

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.

Image by  Mike Licht via flickr.

Image by Mike Licht via flickr.

Hoping to encourage healthier eating habits, leaders of the Navajo Nation have imposed a potentially precedent-setting tax on junk food and sodas.

The 27,000-square-mile territory, which extends into Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, as of April 1 added a 2-cent sales tax to an existing 5-cent sales tax on most goods sold there, Eliza Barclay reported for National Public Radio’s food blog, The Salt. Fresh fruits and vegetables sold on the reservation have been tax-free since October as part of the tribe’s healthy eating initiative. Continue reading

Change to Medicare will shift physicians into value-based payment

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.

President Obama signed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 into law on Thursday afternoon, in what experts say could be the most significant change in Medicare’s 50-year history.

The law, part of a bipartisan deal to eliminate the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that Congress had used to set physician payment rates under Medicare, shifts the 50-year-old program away from a fee-for-service model and moves physicians into value-based payment.

Earlier this week the U.S. Senate passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 by a vote of 92 to 8. Last month, the House passed its version of the bill by 392-37. Continue reading

Why reporters should check the data in a ‘brief’

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.

A recent data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics reported a 23 percent increase in the age-adjusted hypertension-related death rate from 2000 to 2013. In that same period, the rate for all other causes of death combined decreased 21 percent. The report, “Hypertension-related Mortality in the United States, 2000–2013” is part of a series from the Centers for Disease Control on myriad health issues, morbidity and mortality.

Photo: Morgan via Flickr

Photo: Morgan via Flickr

Such reports, while an interesting starting point for a story, can easily be taken out of context and mislead your audience. That’s why building a stable of reliable health care experts to whom you can show the data and quote in your story is important.

The authors of the NCHS brief defined hypertension-related mortality as “any mention of hypertension on the death certificate or as the underlying cause of death.” Continue reading

NYT maps how high health gaps lower the odds

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington-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 health reform resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). US Health Map. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2014. Available from http://vizhub.healthdata.org/us-health-map. (Accessed 4/14/2015)

Image: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). US Health Map. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2014. (Accessed 4/14/2015)

The impact of “income inequality” has been given a closer examination since the recession and is teeing up as a potential catchphrase in the 2016 election.

While poorer pockets of the United States is a well-known factor that can lead to poor health (among other issues), less clear has been the ramifications of living somewhere home to both the wealthy and those the low-income, thus creating a gap. Continue reading

IOM: Take action to improve cognitive health in non-AD older adults

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.

A new report from the Institute of Medicine identifies the three key actions people can take to help maintain optimal cognitive function as they age. Physical activity, reducing and managing cardiovascular disease risk, and regularly reviewing medications and their side effects with their clinicians top the list of recommendations to maintain cognitive health.

Photo: Maury Landsman via Flickr

Photo: Maury Landsman via Flickr

“Changes in mental functions and capabilities are a part of aging and occur with everyone,” committee chair Dan G. Blazer, M.D. Ph.D., the J.P. Gibbons professor of psychiatry emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said in a statement. “The extent and nature of these changes vary widely and are gradual, and aging can have both positive and negative effects on cognition. Wisdom and knowledge can increase with age, while memory and attention can decline.”

The study focused on the public health dimensions of cognitive aging as separate from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It described decline in cognition is a public health issue that goes beyond memory lapses and one that can have significant impacts on independent living and healthy aging. Continue reading

Announcing the 2015 AHCJ-California Health Journalism Fellows

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.

Congratulations to our AHCJ-California Health Journalism fellows, who will be attending AHCJ’s annual conference, Health Journalism 2015.

We are able to support these fellows this year thanks to funding from The California HealthCare Foundation.

Continue reading

Susan Heavey to lead AHCJ’s core topic on social determinants

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.

Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, a journalist who covered health care regulation and policy before focusing on the intersection of health, poverty and demographics, will lead AHCJ’s core topic on social determinants and disparities in health.

Her goal is to  provide AHCJ members the resources they need to cover the root causes of health care gaps by writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and other material.

While on the beat at Reuters, she wrote about everything from brain stimulation and clot-grabbing snake-like devices to drug safety and biosimilars. She also helped cover Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Her work has appeared on reuters.com, been picked up by The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNBC and other outlets, and led news websites for Yahoo! and Google. She also previously wrote about health for washingtonpost.com and KidsHealth.  Continue reading

Announcing the 2015 AHCJ-Colorado Health Journalism Fellows

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.

Congratulations to our AHCJ-Colorado Health Journalism fellows, who will be attending AHCJ’s annual conference, Health Journalism 2015.

We are able to support these fellows this year thanks to funding from the Colorado Health Foundation.

Continue reading

Announcing the 2015 AHCJ-Kansas Health Journalism Fellows

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.

Congratulations to our AHCJ-Kansas Health Journalism fellows, who will be attending AHCJ’s annual conference, Health Journalism 2015.

We are able to support these fellows this year thanks to funding from the Kansas Health Foundation. Continue reading

Announcing the 2015 AHCJ-Missouri Health Journalism Fellows

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.

Congratulations to our AHCJ-Missouri Health Journalism fellows, who will be attending AHCJ’s annual conference, Health Journalism 2015.

We are able to support these fellows this year thanks to funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Continue reading