Five journalists receive 2015 Health Care Performance fellowships

AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance The Association of Health Care Journalists has awarded five journalists AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance for work to be completed in 2015. The program, in its fifth year, is meant to help journalists understand and report on the performance of local health care markets and the U.S. health system as a whole.

The fellowship program, supported by The Commonwealth Fund, is intended to give experienced print, broadcast and online reporters an opportunity to concentrate on the performance of health care systems – or significant parts of those systems – locally, regionally or nationally. The fellows are able to examine policies, practices and outcomes, as well as the roles of various stakeholders.

The 2015 fellows will be:

  • RICK JURGENS covers health care for the Valley News, a daily newspaper in West Lebanon, N.H. Previously, he was a staff reporter for the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Dow Jones Newswires and wrote stories for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Nieman Reports,, San Francisco Business Times and California Current. He also worked as an investigative reporter for the National Consumer Law Center. His project will focus on the different approaches to health care coverage underway in New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont.

  • SARAH KLIFF is a senior editor at Vox, where she oversees health, medicine and education coverage. Kliff joined Vox in February 2014 from The Washington Post, where she covered health policy and was a founding member of Wonkblog, a policy blog dedicated to making complex policy topics easily approachable and understandable. Before the Post, she was a staff writer at Politico, also covering health policy. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, National Geographic, the BBC and other news outlets. Her project will focus on fatal medical errors and what differentiates hospitals with high and low rates.

  • BETH KUTSCHER is the finance reporter for Modern Healthcare, and is based in the Nashville bureau. Before joining Modern Healthcare, she was a content editor and pharmaceutical reporter for the New York-based Mergermarket Group, a Financial Times division. She previously was news and online editor for Pharmaceutical Executive magazine and deputy news editor and healthcare reporter for PRWeek. Her project will compare the financial performance of hospitals and hospital systems in Medicaid expansion states and nonexpansion states.

  • JAYNE O’DONNELL is the health care policy reporter for USA Today, an author, TV contributor and freelance writer. Since September 2013, she has covered the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as well as an investigation into questionable Medicare billing. She is also a longtime safety reporter who has written about subjects as varied as unsafe cosmetic surgery practices, the risks of crib bumpers and the promise of high-tech car safety features. Her project will compare health care being provided in neighboring states with and without Medicaid expansion.

  • DAVID WAHLBERG has been the health reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison since 2005. He previously covered health and other topics at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ann Arbor (Mich.) News, San Bernardino (Calif.) Sun and Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald. His projects on doctor discipline, rural health and patient safety have won awards from AHCJ and other national organizations. His project will focus on how well the organ transplant system is working in Wisconsin.

The fellows will continue in their jobs during the coming year, but also receive customized training, mentoring and financial support for field reporting and conference and workshop attendance. With the support of the program, and their own news outlets, they are expected to complete significant and unique reporting projects by the end of 2015.

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