Vermont moving forward on creating dental therapist training program

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.

Dental workStates across the country are moving ahead with laws aimed at putting dental therapists to work.

Legislators and health advocates hope the mid-level provider model will serve as a cost-effective way of getting dental care to historically underserved communities across the U.S. Continue reading

Brain health supplements offer mostly hype, false hope

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.

brainHealthSupplements

Photo: Kenny Stoltz via Flickr

I don’t know about you, but every time I see a commercial for one particular supplement marketed to improve brain health, I cringe. The ad is misleading and can lead people to think that consuming essentially an unregulated blend of herbs and spices can help stave off cognitive decline or even prevent Alzheimer’s. If only it were true.

The ads are so misleading that the Federal Trade Commission and state of New York actually took the manufacturer to court in 2017 to get the company to stop airing them. (A judge later dismissed charges against the company’s former president, but let the rest of the suit go forward). Continue reading

Tweeting and Tennessee: The story of a block grant

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.

Tennessee State CapitolTennessee is pursuing a variant of a block grant for Medicaid (although it’s not strictly a block grant but more on that in a second.) Brett Kelman has been covering it for the Tennesseean. Much of his work is behind a paywall so we can’t share all of it (here’s one good ungated sample).

We did want to draw attention to what’s going on in Tennessee and point you to an epic Kelman Twitter thread that shed light on his reporting, shows the value of old-fashioned legwork (or in this case, a cyber-variant), and even made Medicaid news an awful lot of fun to read. Continue reading

Review-Journal investigation chronicles allegations against dental board

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.

Dental tools

Photo by Jan van Broekhoven via Flickr

Over recent years, the Nevada Board of Dental Examiners has weathered plenty of criticism. Two governors have singled out the professional licensing board for scrutiny. State audits, including one released in June, have raised troubling questions about accountability and ethical lapses by the dental board, which is funded by professional licensing fees and charged with practitioner oversight and the protection of patients across the state.

Along the way, an ongoing feud between the dental board and the Las Vegas Dental Association kept tensions simmering. Then, a five-month investigation by the Las Vegas Review-Journal helped bring the dental board’s troubles to a boiling point. Continue reading

Tip sheet offers story ideas when reporting on Medicare Advantage

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: John Jacobi via Flickr

Medicare Advantage plans may not be all they’re cracked up to be and often mislead consumers, according to a new MedPage Today story by reporter Cheryl Clark, who also is AHCJ’s new patient safety core topic leader. As Clark puts it, “getting out is a lot harder than getting in.”

Anyone turning 65 has several months on either side of their birthday to choose to enroll in traditional Medicare, the government-run health insurance for older adults and certain people under 65 with disabilities. Medicare includes Parts A (hospitalization), B (physician services) and an optional Part D (prescription drug plan). As of November, Medicare covered nearly 39 million people. Continue reading

Investigation reveals failings in adoption of electronic health records

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Over the past decade, federal spending of $36 billion to stimulate health providers’ conversion of patient medical records from piles of paper to electronic format was supposed to make care safer and lives easier. It would illuminate epidemiological trends that could stop spread of disease or point to a preventable culprit.

It might even make diagnosis of patient symptoms faster and more accurate. And patients would have easier access to their medical records.

To make sure it did all that, stakeholders were supposed to build a national databank and safety center that would track near misses, injuries and deaths caused by glitches in the system — for example medication or patient record errors — many of which have driven doctors and health systems nearly crazy over the years.

Continue reading