Mo. journalist shows how undocumented immigrants struggle for care under ACA

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.

Tammy Worth

Tammy Worth

When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Tammy Worth, an award-winning freelance health and business writer in Kansas City, Mo., was interested in how undocumented immigrants would fare under the new law.

She recognized that undocumented immigrants were ineligible for both of the main provisions of the law meant to extend coverage to 32 million Americans: the Medicaid expansion and the state insurance exchanges.

To fund her work, she applied in 2011 to the Association of Health Care Journalists for an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Performance, supported by the Commonwealth Fund. At the time, the fellowship program was in its second year of supporting journalists in their work reporting on the performance of local health care systems and the U.S. health system as a whole. In December 2011, she was named one of three fellows for 2012. (Note: Applications for the 2015 program are being accepted until Oct. 1.)

In 2012 and 2013, she focused her reporting on three areas: the economics of immigration, the effect of the law on providers and the health care community, and immigrant health stories.

The result was a three-part reporting project that was produced earlier this year for the Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT, a Kansas City public television station. Read more about how she did the reporting and her advice for other journalists.

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