Tag Archives: opioids

Dentists urged to find non-opioid alternatives to ease patient pain

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 mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Herry Lawford via Flickr

In response to the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction, health care leaders including U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have urged providers to consider alternatives when helping patients manage pain.

Among those receiving the appeals are dentists, who have been among the leading prescribers of opioid pain medications, according to numerous studies. Dentists regularly write the prescriptions for patients who have undergone surgical tooth extractions, according to a research letter published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Continue reading

Winners of 2016 health journalism contest announced

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-depth investigations into heroin and pain-pill abuse drew several top awards in this year’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

The 2016 awards, announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists, recognize the best health reporting in 11 categories. This year, the contest’s 13th, drew nearly 400 entries.

Winning entries included investigations into inflated prescription-drug prices, agricultural practices fueling antibiotic resistance, and poor oversight of dangerous drug interactions.

Read more about the winners.

Cincinnati journalists spotlight how the heroin epidemic has put a generation at risk

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: Nadja Robot via Flickr

On Monday, analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed that 24 million more Americans would become uninsured over 10 years if the U.S. House Republican’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law. Coverage of the CBO report overshadowed other news last week that the proposed American Health Care Act also would slash insurance coverage for those who are addicted to opioids and other drugs, according to reporting in USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Deirdre Shesgreen and Terry DeMio on March 9 reported the bill would freeze the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions and limit federal payments to the states for all beneficiaries. That would result in a disproportionately adverse effect on patients coping with mental illness and addiction, they wrote. Continue reading

Time to look at the potential impact of ACA repeal on mental health care

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: mattwalker69 via Flickr

Photo: mattwalker69 via Flickr

Sarah Ferris has written a new tip sheet for AHCJ members that provides ideas on exploring how partial or complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act could reduce access to mental health care for millions of people.

This comes at a time when the country is grappling with an opioid addiction crisis and scores of people are without adequate access to behavioral health care. Continue reading

Resources for covering insurance and its role in addiction treatment

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: Debora Cartagena/CDC

Health care journalists covering addiction, overdoses, and the heroin epidemic are likely to learn that the health insurance system appears to be part of the problem. That’s what Terry DeMio found on her beat in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Since January 2016, DeMio has been the Cincinnati Enquirer’s heroin epidemic reporter.

Rather than paying for the best medications for drug addicts in need, health insurers often require patients to start with the lowest-cost drugs. Then if the lowest-cost prescription fails, insurers then pay for the next highest-cost drug. Called fail-first or step therapy, this process repeats until the patient finds one that works. Meanwhile, the patient suffers or could die, DeMio said. Continue reading