Health care debate shines light on Medicaid

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 determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Dmitriy via Flickr

One result of the ongoing health care reform debate – and the coverage of it – is a renewed look at Medicaid by both journalists and the public.

The joint federal-state government health insurance program is often thought of as simply serving the poor, but Republicans’ efforts to roll back Obamacare’s expansion of the coverage also opened up efforts to educate readers about other beneficiaries, according to some analysts.

Even as Republicans in the Senate appeared to run out of options this week, the debate over the program is likely to continue. Continue reading

New report looks at long-term care affordability, recommendations

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 and other outlets. 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.

While an estimated 70 percent of older adults will need some long-term services and supports (LTSS) at some point in their lives, three out of four Americans over age 40 don’t think they will have enough financial resources to meet their health needs as they age. However, a new report concludes that improving financing and delivery of long-term care is possible — even in today’s politically charged environment. Continue reading

For N.C. reporter, news brief led to series on solitary confinement, mental illness

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: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

In most states, care for those with behavioral health problems is so poor that the nation’s prisons have become the default treatment centers for many of the most vulnerable mental health patients. As Congress wrestles with plans to cut funding for Medicaid, many observers are calling for more coverage.

For an example of a mental health system that relies on state prisons, see the work of Taylor Knopf, a reporter for North Carolina Health News. In the spring of 2015, Knopf was working for the Raleigh News & Observer when an editor asked her to write a news brief about an effort to improve the state’s use of solitary confinement. Seeing an opportunity, Knopf made a few calls and did more than write a brief: Over the next year, she turned that assignment into a two-part series on how the prison system used solitary confinement to discipline inmates for even minor infractions.

In a new “How I Did It” article, Knopf writes about the series and how her reporting focused on one inmate’s struggle to adjust to life outside of prison after being held in solitary confinement for almost three years. Continue reading

Freelancers share best practices, top tools

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

In April, several experienced independent journalists shared their advice for having a successful freelance career during a panel at Health Journalism 2017 in Orlando. People in the audience chimed in with contributions.

“Panelists offered dozens of helpful tips and plenty of sound advice — including several ideas that were new to even the most experienced freelancers in the room,” wrote Liz Seegert, AHCJ’s core topic leader on aging and an independent journalist.

Seegert and Tara Haelle, AHCJ’s medical studies core topic leader, compiled an extensive tip sheet from the information shared at that panel especially for AHCJ’s freelance members. See the tip sheet.

The federal government’s health IT priorities: What to watch

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.

Top federal officials on health information technology outlined their priorities for the sector in a press call this week.

The takeaway was that they would like to see less regulatory burden for providers and help foster information sharing among trusted health care entities. Continue reading