Experts have advice for the last-minute Medicare Advantage shoppers among your audience

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.

A screenshot from a television ad on Friday for a Medicare Advantage plan from UnitedHealthcare.

A screenshot from a television ad on Friday for a Medicare Advantage plan from UnitedHealthcare.

Watching the TV ads during the evening news, you would think Medicare Advantage plans were the greatest health insurance bargain ever invented. Consumers should not be fooled, however.

It’s true that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made it possible for Medicare Advantage (MA) health plans to offer more benefits to seniors enrolled in Medicare. Some of these plans offer coverage for vision, hearing, and gym memberships) while not charging a monthly premium, and some MA plans will even pay for seniors’ Medicare Part B premium, said John Barkett, a senior director of policy affairs at the health care consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

Andrew Smiley

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He is an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

welcome-matPlease welcome these new professional and student members to AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Writer offers advice on how journalists can respond to COVID-19 deniers

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Dana Smith

Dana Smith

For Dana Smith, senior staff writer at Elemental, one of the biggest surprises this year has been the anti-science sentiment and the number of COVID-19 disbelievers among readers.

Elemental, a health publication on the Medium platform, invites comments from readers and some of them have posted about a “takeover by scientists” of society or that the threat of the virus is overblown.

“It’s pretty disheartening to see,” Smith said in a new “How I Did It” piece. Continue reading

Sorting through the controversies over pandemic mask-wearing

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

MaskControversies

Photo: Joe Loong via Flickr

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said the U.S. should have a national mask mandate. President-elect Joe Biden is in talks with governors to try to implement one when he takes office in January.

Mask wearing, however, remains a political hot-button. President Trump and many other Republicans have called mandates an overreach of the government and encroachment on freedom. Biden will have lots of work to depoliticize mask-wearing, NPR reports.

So, what is the latest on the science of masks? Continue reading

Industry trade group points out potential stories in health information technology

Debra Gordon

About Debra Gordon

Debra Gordon, M.S., is AHCJ’s health information technology topic leader. She has more than 30 years of experience in the health care world, including a decade as a newspaper reporter covering medicine, and 22 years as a freelance medical writer.

Karen Groppe, senior director of corporate communications the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS)

Karen Groppe

If you cover anything about health information technology (HIT), then you should know about Karen Groppe, senior director of corporate communications the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), the country’s leading HIT trade group.

I interviewed Groppe about stories journalists should be pursuing in HIT and how HIMSS can help.

She listed four topics that should take you through 2021 and beyond. Continue reading

Discussions include treatment of mental health issues behind bars

Katti Gray

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

jail-cell

Photo: Paul Robinson via Flickr

A multi-partisan discussion of criminal justice reform — among Democrats, Republicans and billionaire philanthropists ranging from the libertarian Koch Brothers to the liberal George Soros, who are financing reform efforts — includes the question of what to do about people with mental illnesses who wind up behind bars, including for minor, non-violent offenses.

In its most recent report, released in 2017, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 14% of a yearly count of roughly 2.3 million convicted state and federal prisoners and 26% of jailed pre-trial detainees “met the threshold for serious psychological distress.” By comparison, during that same period, mental illness had been diagnosed in 5% of the U.S. population of comparable race, age and gender of those incarcerated persons. Continue reading