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Membership

New York City Metro chapter

To get involved, contact Trudy Lieberman at Trudy.Lieberman@gmail.com.

Upcoming events

Drugs: High prices and big shortages - Jan. 15, 6 p.m.

This will be a conversation between long-time New York financial journalist Phil Zweig who is the co-founder of a group called Physicians Against Drug Shortages, and Dr. Peter Bach, who directs the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He has spoken widely on the issue the high price of cancer drugs and publishes in medical journals as well as other news outlets.


Past events

Mining ACA data for stories
June 19, 6-7:30 p.m., at New York Health Foundation 

We posted some data tools from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the health reform beat and AHCJ’s New York chapter recently got to hear about them in an exclusive briefing from RWJF. If you’ve done stories using this data, we’d love to see them and learn about how you used the data. Send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Charles Ornstein Storyfied the meeting and we have this guide for you from RWJF.

Looking for new angles on the Affordable Care Act? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will discuss the highlights of six databases on the law in an exclusive briefing for AHCJ members. The session will be led by RWJF’s Katherine Hempstead, a rare data maven who spices her presentation with energy and humor.

The databases can answer many questions, such as whether consumers are having trouble paying their sky-high deductibles or whether waiting lines are growing at doctors’ offices. Want to know how your state exchange differs from others? RWJF can help. Hempstead will also offer ideas for stories that can be mined from the data no matter your technical abilities. This is a can’t-miss event for journalists covering health care. Learn more about the databases.

Panel Discussion on Genetically Modified FoodsApr. 9, 2014

The April 9 event with Science Writers in New York (SWINY) was a panel discussion on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Foods containing ingredients with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been dubbed Frankenfoods. They generate scary headlines. Some consumer advocates urge a GMO ban, arguing that they're untested, unregulated, and linked to potential health problems. Others insist the answer is labelling GMO foods or ingredients so that consumers can choose—and this spurs intense lobbying efforts. And yet others assert that GMO foods can be a boon. Several countries have already barred specific GMO crops.

But what do we really know about GMOs? Why do they cause such a firestorm of controversy? Find out at this informative, thought-provoking panel discussion.

Panelists:

    • The Sense and Science of GMOs: Doug Gurian-Sherman, Union of Concerned Scientists
    • GMOs – The Food Industry Perspective: John Ruff, past president, Institute of Food Technologists
    • The Case Against GMOs: Michael Boms, adjunct assistant professor of biology, SUNY, New Paltz
    • The Argument for Labeling GMO Products: Jean Halloran, Consumers Union

New York's Insurance Exchange

AHCJ's New York City chapter held a discussion on Dec. 12, 2013, about New York's Insurance Exchange, featuring Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of the New York Community Service Society.

November’s “Drink to your health” gathering

Health journalists in New York got together to chat about science, health care and journalism on Nov. 6, 2013, at the White Horse Tavern.

Drink to your health

Join other health writers to chat about health care science/policy, network and, of course, drink... to your health! 

Please send RSVPs to news@mbloudoff.com or via Twitter to @mbloudoff or on Facebook so the bar can plan accordingly.

Bring along anyone you think might be interested, with the understanding that this is a pitch-free networking event.

Aug. 7, 2013, 6-10 p.m.

The Brooklyneer
220 W. Houston Street
New York City

Brill reminds New York AHCJ members to follow the money

AHCJ New York members gained a unique look this week into how journalist, author, and businessman Steven Brill researched and compiled his now-infamous 36-page Time Magazine article “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.”

At a June 11, 2013, NYC chapter event, Brill detailed his efforts to get satisfactory explanations from hospital CEOs about their multimillion dollar salaries while someone who had no health insurance was paying perhaps hundreds of dollars for a product that could be purchased in a local drugstore for pocket change.  He explained how he obtained copies of actual hospital bills – for hundreds of thousand of dollars in some cases – and how he tracked down and analyzed the price differentials charged to public, private and non-insured patients.

Read more about this event.

Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre (@bengoldacre), a physician, is author of the best-selling book "Bad Science" and the new book "Bad Pharma," which is already making waves around the globe. Goldacre's website says he specializes in "unpicking dodgy scientific claims from drug companies, newspapers, government reports, PR people and quacks. Unpicking bad science is the best way to explain good science." Goldacre has been writing the Bad Science column in the Guardian since 2003, has been interviewed by many news outlets and even performs at comedy clubs. His latest campaign, his biggest ever, is AllTrials.net, which is seeking to have all clinical trials registered, all summary results reported, and full Clinical Study Reports made publicly available.

This is an event you won't want to miss.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m. 
The World Room, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
116th and Broadway (right off the 1 train) | Directions
Books will be available for purchase on site and Goldacre can sign them there, as well.

Election polling

Humphrey Taylor, pollster and chairman of the Harris Poll, will talk about election polling, giving us his insights and maybe some predictions. He also will discuss international health comparisons.

The New York State Health Foundation has graciously offered us a place for our meetings.

When:  Wednesday, Oct. 3, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Where:  New York State Health Foundation  1385 Broadway, corner of 38th St., Come to the 23rd floor.

Implementing health reform in the states, March 1

Sponsored by AHCJ, Alliance for Health Reform, United Hospital Fund of New York and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

WHEN: Thursday, March 1, 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Hors d’oeuvres and soft drinks available at 6 p.m.)

WHERE: United Hospital Fund of New York – 1411 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York City – 212-494-0700

RSVP to: Trudy Lieberman (Trudy.Lieberman@gmail.com), AHCJ New York chapter chair, by 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29. The security desk will be checking names of those registered, so it’s necessary to RSVP for this event. You’ll need to show a government-issued photo ID.

NOTE: Although AHCJ is cosponsoring this event, you don’t need to be a member of AHCJ to attend.

The health care overhaul law passed by Congress in 2010 sets out national goals and requirements. But many of the key decisions implementing the law are left to the states.   

For example, states have a lot of leeway in how they set up health insurance exchanges, where individuals and small business will be able to buy coverage starting in 2014. Florida and Louisiana have said they will refuse to set up exchanges, meaning the federal government will organize exchanges in those states. Other states are planning their exchanges, even while asking courts to toss out the law entirely.   

Still other states are working to change their health care systems in ways that go beyond the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Vermont, for example, wants the Obama Administration’s approval to put in place a Canadian-style single-payer system. Oregon wants to allow public employees to enroll in Medicaid.   

What’s happening in New York? How are states preparing for the law’s Medicaid expansion in a time of budget deficits? As they plan for reform, how are states addressing tough issues such as health care for undocumented immigrants and cutbacks in mental health services? How do states go about getting waivers from the reform law, and how many might take advantage of that option?   

This briefing will help you better answer these questions for your readers, viewers and listeners. 

Speakers: 

Tim Jost holds the Robert L. Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. Jost blogs regularly on implementing health reform and other reform regulatory issues. He has written a number of articles on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.  He is a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and a member of the Institute of Medicine. He is a co-author of a casebook, Health Law, used widely throughout the United States in teaching health law. He is also the author of Health Care Coverage Determinations: An International Comparative Study; Disentitlement? The Threats Facing our Public Health Care Programs and a Rights-Based Response; and Readings in Comparative Health Law and Bioethics, the second edition of which appeared this spring. Jost has also written numerous articles and book chapters on health care regulation and comparative health law and policy, and has lectured on health law topics throughout the world. His most recent book is Health Care at Risk: A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement, which was published by Duke University Press in 2007.

Deborah Bachrach, a former New York Medicaid director, is the health care transaction and policy counsel at the firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in New York City. Bachrach has more than 20 years of experience in health policy and financing in both the public and private sectors and an extensive background in Medicaid policy and healthcare reform.  Her practice focuses on developing strategies to respond to the requirements and opportunities of federal health reform, particularly in balancing coverage, quality and cost containment. She has served as an advisor to the Center for Health Care Strategies, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), and the Kaiser Family Foundation as well as state Medicaid agencies, foundations, healthcare providers and other healthcare organizations. Most recently, Bachrach was the Medicaid director and deputy commissioner of health for the New York State Department of Health, Office of Health Insurance Programs. In this capacity, she was responsible for coverage, care and payment policies for more than 4 million children and adults enrolled in New York’s Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Programs. 

Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for more than 40 years, is a contributing editor and blogger at the Columbia Journalism Review, where she writes about health care and income security issues. She is immediate past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists.  She is an adjunct associate professor at the CUNY School of Public Health and is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health where she writes about paying for health care. Lieberman had a long career at Consumer Reports specializing in insurance, health care and health care financing.  She was also director of the Center for Consumer Health Choices at Consumers Union. She contributes to The Nation and has written a column about health and the marketplace for the Los Angeles Times.  She began her career as a consumer writer for the Detroit Free Press. Lieberman is the recipient of 26 journalism awards and five fellowships, including two National Magazine Awards and two Fulbright scholar awards.  She is the author of five books, including Slanting the Story—the Forces That Shape the News and the Consumer Reports Guide to Health Services for Seniors, which was named one of the best consumer health books for 2000 by Library Journal.  She is completing another book about health reform in America.

James R. Tallon Jr. (joining the panel for the Q&A period) is president of the United Hospital Fund of New York. The chair of The Commonwealth Fund and of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, he also serves as secretary/treasurer of the Alliance for Health Reform. He is on the boards of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the New York eHealth Collaborative, and the advisory board for the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence. Prior to joining the Fund in 1993, Mr. Tallon represented Binghamton and parts of Broome County in the New York State Assembly for 19 years, beginning in 1975.  He chaired the assembly’s health committee from 1979 to 1987, and was majority leader from 1987 to 1993. In September 1999, Empire State Reports named him one of 25 leaders whose work resulted in sweeping improvements in the lives of New Yorkers in the past 25 years. In 1998-99 Mr. Tallon led the planning process that established The National Quality Forum. During the New York gubernatorial transition period in 2006, he headed the Health Care Policy Advisory Committee. Mr. Tallon is also a member of the New York State Board of Regents, the constitutionally-established supervisory body of all education and education-related activities in New York.

Moderator:
Ed Howard
is the founding executive vice president of the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit health policy group in Washington, D.C. that he formed in 1991 with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) Mr. Howard and his staff have organized almost 500 briefings for members of Congress and their staffs, for reporters, for Executive Branch staff and for health-related groups. He has written and lectured across the country, and testified before Congress, on a range of topics related to aging and health, including long-term care, the uninsured, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, age discrimination in the workplace and services for the elderly. Prior to the Alliance’s founding, Mr. Howard served as the general counsel for the U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care, the “Pepper Commission,” which reported to Congress on ways to assure access to health care and long-term care for all Americans.

Nov. 9: Investigating health care

Learn  techniques and tools for getting the inside story on pharmaceuticals, medical devices, hospitals, and for keeping up with regulatory and legal activity from award-winning, veteran investigative reporters.
 
Confirmed speakers:

Duff Wilson, The New York Times
Charles Ornstein, AHCJ president, ProPublica

There will be time for an interactive discussion among audience members and the panelists. Feel free to send questions or topics you would like to see covered.

When: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010; 6:15 - 8 p.m.
Where: The Associated Press at 450 West 33rd Street (between 9th and 10th avenues) 

Special thanks to Stephanie Nano and our hosts at the Associated Press.

Tuberculosis: AIDS of the 21st Century?

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Audio

Listen to the discussion

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most devastating epidemics of our time. But it receives relatively little attention from the media in relation to the 1.8 million deaths (and 9.3 million cases) it causes annually. Even worse, is the growing epidemic of multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB), which is greatly undermining gains in controlling TB particularly among those with HIV/AIDS. Recent data show that 25 percent of people dying of TB are HIV .

An expert panel of scientists and journalists will make the case that health journalists must be prepared to cover MDR-TB and to persuade editorial leadership of its urgency.

Speakers

  • Chrispin Kambili, M.D., assistant commissioner and director, Bureau of Tuberculosis Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

  • Donald J. McNeil Jr., science and health reporter for The New York Times

  • Lee Reichman, M.D., M.P.H., executive director, New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute, and professor of medicine and preventive medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School

  • Mel Spigelman, M.D., president and CEO, Tuberculosis Alliance

  • Janice Hopkins Tanne, journalist/co-author (with Reichman) of "Timebomb: The Global Epidemic of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis."

Background

Among infectious diseases, only HIV is responsible for more deaths globally, and an estimated third of the world is infected with TB in its latent form. Recent developments suggest multiple story ideas and angles, including:

  • The need for new and increased funding of TB R&D and global TB control by the US government and the international community
  • The impact of investment, Millennium Development Goals/Global Plan to Stop TB targets, funding gaps.
  • The economic impact on individuals, families, businesses, and society in both developed world and developing nations.
  • Advances in R&D efforts to treat TB.
  • The growing and dire public health threat of MDR-TB and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

Schwitzer 'road show' makes a stop in Times Square

"In health care, newer is not always better.  More is not always better. Screening doesn't always make sense for everyone."

These were the central themes presented to an audience of more than 30 health care journalists and students at the latest event hosted by the Metro NYC chapter of AHCJ at the CUNY School of Journalism in Manhattan on May 18th. Gary Schwitzer, publisher, and Harold J. DeMonaco, reviewer for healthnewsreview.org presented case studies demonstrating a troubling decline in the quality of health news coverage resulting from bottom-line and deadline pressures in media organizations.

They argued that health journos must use "a healthy dose of skepticism" to do a better job of reporting the costs and risks associated with "new" diagnostics and treatments, and assessing the newsworthiness of medical journal articles, medical meeting presentations, and poster sessions. In fact, says Schwitzer, reporters would do well to avoid covering medical meetings entirely because the material presented hasn't yet been peer-reviewed.

"The plural of anecdotes is not data," he says. "Journalists can do great harm by passing on misinformation and fear to the worried well. So maybe we should lead with what we don¹t know versus what we think we know." Schwitzer urged AHCJ members to take leadership roles at their own organizations to improve the quality of coverage.

N.Y.C. group learns about spotting conflicts of interest

The New York chapter heard from five speakers about conflicts of interest in health care on Nov. 5. The event, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, examined how to recognize potential conflicts, including marketing vs. education, the pharmaceutical industry's gift giving to doctors and how it might affect prescribing habits and similar issues.

Scott Hensley, editor of The Wall Street Journal's health blog, moderated the session. Panelists were Alex Berenson, a business reporter at The New York Times; Ed Silverman, editor of Pharmalot, a Star Ledger Web site; Joanna Breitstein, executive editor of Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine; and Fran Hawthorne, author of "The Merck Druggernaut" and "Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat."

Before the program began, outgoing chapter chair Carol Milano was honored for her years of service. Board President Trudy Lieberman and Board Member Ivan Oransky praised her for her efforts at starting and building AHCJ's first chapter.

"I still remember that first meeting in 2002, sitting outside at Pete's Tavern on Irving Place with Carol and several other AHCJ members from around the New York area," Oransky said. "Without Carol, we never would have had all of the events we did. Her work has been a model for other successful chapters."

Milano received a plaque expressing the national organization's appreciation.

"I was surprised and extremely flattered at the accolades," Milano said. "I'm very proud that my optimistic undertaking back in June 2003 helped inspire members to start chapters in other cities. And it's wonderful that our 18th event was such a great success."

 

Medical Devices: Uncharted Territory, Feb. 26, 2007

Watch a webcast of this panel or download the audio as an MP3 file.

Costly drugs and Big Pharma garner the majority of media coverage, yet medical devices and diagnostics are a massive, fast-growing market -- one that's sure to grow as aging baby boomers look for better replacement parts and tests.

Find out about trends, sources, and the latest advances in this important yet still under-reported sector. You'll learn how small companies get financing and approvals, and what they have to do to compete with the giants in their industry.

Moderator: Scott Hensley, News Editor, The Wall Street Journal, Health & Science Bureau (AHCJ member) Hensley writes the WSJ column "Follow the Money," about what drives decisions in the health care industry, and appears frequently on CNBC.

Panel members include top executives from these cutting-edge medical technology companies:

  • Chembio Diagnostics - Developer and manufacturer of rapid tests to aid in the detection of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.
  • Mystic Pharmaceuticals - Developer of drug delivery solutions for ophthalmic and intranasal applications.
  • CNS Response - The company's technology matches mental and addiction physiology to treatment outcomes, providing a platform for physicians to manage patients' psychiatric medications.
  • SyntheMed - Biomaterials company that develops and commercializes anti-adhesion and drug delivery products.

When: Feb. 26, 6 to 8 pm

Where: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Admission: Complimentary

Panelist Coordinators:

Brett Johnson (AHCJ member), Publisher, Health Care Investment Digest
Sara Calabro, Editor-in-Chief, Medical Technology Investment Digest

The newest media for journalists, Sept. 26, 6-8 p.m.

Learn how to add the latest in podcasting, digital images, audio, and more to your stories.

Featured presenter: Sree Sreenivasan is the New Media Professor and Dean of Students at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and is a technology commentator for WABC-TV.

Narrative Medical Nonfiction for Journalists & Authors, An inside look at "the new journalism", Tuesday, June 27, 2006 6:00 - 8:00 pm

It focuses on the colorful story behind the facts, and reads like fiction. This popular approach builds a strong connection for the reader by reporting on real issues in vivid, character-driven style. Guest speakers included

  • Henry Finder, Editorial Director, The New Yorker, co-author, "Fierce Pajamas" (Modern Library, 2002)
  • Sandeep Jauhar M.D., Director, Heart Failure Program, Long Island Jewish Medical Center (Articles: New York Times, Readers Digest, the Lancet)
  • Paul Raeburn, (AHCJ member), Journalist-Author, "Acquainted With The Night: A Memoir of Raising Children with Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder"(Broadway Books; Formerly editor and science writer at Business Week and The Associated Press

Health News Schmooze

The April 24 Health News Schmooze was a friendly after-work get-together. No guest speakers or presentations, just a chance to chat with colleagues about hot topics in health journalism.

Breaking it Down with Big Pharma

Drug companies seem to spend almost as much on marketing as on science, making it hard for us to penetrate their products and research. What's the best way to get the straight dope?

The March 23 event hosted a revealing look at scoring on-the-record quotes from reluctant pharmaceutical executives, scientists or spokepeople. The Wall Street Journal's Scott Hensley, who writes the column "Follow the Money," spoke about what drives decisions in the health-care industry and shared tips, techniques, and practical advice for strategizing and shaping stories.

'The Bottom Line on On-Line Health Reporting'

Are you ever curious about the work, pressures, and opportunities of covering health and all its issues for the web world? Then come and join us for "The Bottom Line on On-Line Health Reporting," on September 26th.

Editors from leading electronic media spoke with members about freelance opportunities, salaries, deadlines, pro's and con's, and how electronic is different from print or broadcast journalism.

Mindy Hung is the site editor of Medscape's main home page, Medscape Today. She also edits their Business of Medicine site and works with Medscape Medical News.

Theresa Tamkins is an editor at HealthDay.com. The Connecticut-based company produces a daily news feed of consumer health articles, for websites, television stations, and 40 newspapers worldwide. HealthDay is the exclusive print syndication parter for the New York Times Syndicate.

Covering Health Live

(July 18, 2005) If you've ever wondered what it's like to cover the health beat live -- on radio, television or cable -- join us for "Behind the Scenes with Health Broadcasters." You'll be able to talk informally with three on-the-air staff and freelance reporters. Find out about job opportunities, salaries, deadlines, pros and cons, and how broadcast is different from print or online journalism.

Our special guests included:

  • Debra Goldschmidt, who has worked in various capacities for CNN. She has been the medical news assignment editor, assignment manager and producer. Debra has won numerous awards and fellowships at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. Currently, she freelances for both CNN and the Wall Street Journal.
  • Graciela Rogerio got her start writing for her hometown paper in Laredo, Texas, at age 15 -- the same year she also entered healthcare as a candy-striper at the local hospital. She has been straddling both worlds for many years. For almost two decades, Graciela has been working with rheumatologist Dr. Jay Adlersberg at Channel 7 WABC, producing nightly segments about local, national and international health concerns.
  • Fred Mogul is a senior reporter for WNYC-New York Public Radio, where he covers healthcare, among other topics. Before moving here in 2002, he worked as a newspaper reporter, a documentary TV producer and freelancer in various media.

Hands-on Medical Simulation Event

Want to play doctor? Then come to the AHCJ Metro New York Chapter’s May 18th event at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The only catch is that the patients you’ll be treating are pretty smart dummies.

Adam I. Levine, MD, director of simulation in the anesthesiology department at MSSM, will give a brief introduction to the role of simulation in medicine and then let us play with the simulation tools. The center has three full-scale adult mannequin simulators and a five-year-old child simulator. It also has several part-task trainers for virtual bronchoscopy, colonoscopy and intravenous placement.

Like cockpit training for pilots, medical simulators allow physicians to practice specific tasks such as colonoscopy or treat human mannequins without risking patient safety. Currently, more than two-thirds of anesthesiology trainees go through simulation training in their residency. The technique is gaining ground among experienced physicians, as evidenced by a recent FDA decision that requires doctors who want to perform a new and technically challenging procedure to practice first on a simulator.

The Art and Science of Winemaking: A joint event with SWINY

Want to peek behind the bottles and barrels to discover the science and art of winemaking? Then this is the SWINY trip for you.

You may have tramped through vineyards before. Or learned how wines are picked, pressed, fermented, and aged. Or tasted a wide selection of wines made from European and hybrid grapes. And you'll get to do that when we visit Unionville Vineyards on May 14 as well.

But this tour is unusual because you'll also get to blend your own wines. Many wines marketed with names like cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, or merlot are actually blended from different barrels and different grapes in order to balance their flavors. Unionville winemaker Cameron Stark has promised a hands-on blending that will let you try your hand at vinicultural creation.

Cameron is an outstanding guide. He originally learned his trade in California, where his wines earned high marks from Wine Enthusiast. He's technically astute and has a great sense of humor, so this is a great chance for oneophiles to have their questions answered.

Cameron is also in a great position to contrast Californian and East Coast styles. And yes, there is an emerging eastern style. Over the past four years, the number of eastern wineries has roughly doubled to 203 in New York, 99 in Pennsylvania, and 100 in Ohio (and grew only 50% to 97 in Virginia).

Eastern wines are very different from those made in California. And many of these wineries are at your doorstep, just waiting to be discovered.

This is a great chance to socialize with your fellow writers, and you're welcome to bring a friend so you can both enjoy the day. We also plan some hands-on experiments where we'll taste a few bottles to compare and contrast to the wines from Unionville.

www.unionvillevineyards.com

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