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.

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Financial abuse of elders can wipe out savings, take away independence

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: jridgewayphotography via Flickr

Financial fraud is a business which is both pervasive and problematic. Older people can be at high risk for this form of elder abuse from many sides — trusted others, friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, or caregivers.

It can be a crime of opportunity, or a well-planned, targeted scheme, and often goes undetected for months or even years. We all need to do our part to educate potential victims and help inoculate them about this issue, according to one expert at the recent AHCJ Journalism Workshop on Aging & Health. Continue reading

U.S. vaccine safety system needs greater visibility, webcast panelists say

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.

PHOTO: SELF MAGAZINE VIA FLICKR

As state legislators have grappled with policies to address vaccine hesitancy, public health officials and journalists could do more to emphasize that the United States has a well-established and effective vaccine safety surveillance system, policy experts told AHCJ members during a Nov. 21 webcast.

The U.S. engages several agencies and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the National Academy of Medicine, plus eight health care systems and seven academic hospitals in monitoring vaccine safety. Continue reading

Deregulation of pork production highlights need to cover food safety

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.

Photo: Anne Akers via Flkr

In late September 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized rules to deregulate the safety inspection process in pork production and to increase the slaughter of animals, despite the opposition of consumer advocates and several former agency officials.

The new rules allow company employees, rather than USDA inspectors, to determine which parts of meat with defects can be removed from the slaughter process. Companies, instead of USDA inspectors, also will be allowed to determine slaughter speeds, based on their ability to prevent fecal contamination. Continue reading

Poor sleep quality linked to increased Alzheimer’s risk in Hispanics

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.

Sleep disturbances among Hispanics may increase their risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

Photo: Alex Proimos via Flickr

Sleep disturbances among Hispanics may increase their risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study. Researchers found that insomnia and prolonged sleep duration appear to be linked to a decline in neurocognitive functioning that can precede the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

This finding is particularly important because Hispanics have a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with non-Hispanic whites. Onset also occurs sooner, according to prior research from Duke University. Continue reading