Where to get more answers about COVID-19

Bara Vaida and Tara Haelle

About Bara Vaida and Tara Haelle

Bara Vaida is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Tara Haelle is medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon of science and research and helping them translate evidence into accurate information.

Photo: NIAID-RML via FlickrAn electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 — also known as 2019-nCoV — which is the virus that causes COVID-19.

There are still many unknowns about the COVID-19 outbreak, which as of February 26, has sickened more than 81,000 people and killed more than 2,700. See this map to keep up with the figures, which are updated as new information comes in from different countries.

Key questions, such as just how contagious the virus is, how deadly it is and whether there will be widespread transmission outside of China, do not all have precise answers yet. To help answer such questions and others about prevention, the federal public health response, risk factors and similar concerns, the CDC’s COVID-19 FAQ page offers a relatively comprehensive list of questions with succinct answers and links to details. Continue reading

Covering crowdsourced medical bills: Don’t skip these important questions

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. Follow her on Facebook.

You’ve all seen the GoFundMe and other crowdsourcing campaigns for health care, on social media or elsewhere. They are probably even more common than you realize. A study from the NORC at the University of Chicago found that about about 50 million people – one in five U.S. adults – have reported donating to some type of campaign to raise money for a medical bill or treatment.

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Tip sheet on covering alcohol highlights do’s, don’ts and story ideas

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Casey Clough via Flickr

Every day, stories about the U.S. opioid epidemic appear in daily newsfeeds, and rightly so: they are responsible for two out of every three drug overdoses in the country.

But there’s another drug not included in the usual drug overdose stats which kills almost twice as many people a year as opioids — alcohol. And yet, a casual perusal of the daily headlines usually turns up as many fun or fluff stories about alcohol as ones that suggest the risks and harms of drinking. Continue reading

Increased scrutiny of health care credit cards continues

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: OTA Photos via Flickr

Dental patients can face tough choices when figuring out how to pay for costly services not covered by insurance. In moments of need or pain, they may be offered the option of applying for a medical credit card — right in the dental office.

The credit cards ensure immediate payment to providers, so dentists like them. But patients are not always clear on the terms, which often include deferred-interest provisions. If cardholders misunderstand what they have signed up for and falls behind on payments, they can end up facing inflated bills and crippling debt. Continue reading

Proposed federal budget filled with cuts to programs benefiting older Americans

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Susan Jane Golding via Flickr

The Trump Administration’s proposed $4.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2021 features plenty of reductions to spending for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Naturally, this has Democrats and elder advocates up in arms.

The proposal would slash Medicare by $850 billion, Medicaid by $920 billion and Social Security by $30 billion over the next decade, according to The Washington Post. It also includes cuts to Children’s Health Insurance programs, despite previous statements by the president that entitlements would remain untouched. Continue reading

Facing increased scrutiny, PBMs will press case before High Court

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.

pharmacy benefit managers

Photo: FunGi_ (Trading) via Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case that pits two groups on opposite sides of the debate over prescription drug costs: community pharmacists and pharmacy benefit managers.

In the case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the court will consider whether the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 pre-empts an Arkansas law regulating PBMs’ drug-reimbursement rates.

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