Author Archives: Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president a member of the association's Finance and Development Committee and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

AHCJ strengthens its ethics rules on conference funding

AHCJ has strengthened its ethical standards on funding for the annual conference, enhancing the ethics code established at our inception 20 years ago to guard against undue influence by outside groups or the perception of such influence.

You can find evidence of the recent changes in the conference program and registration form: Continue reading

AHCJ protests troubling incidents at HHS, calls on Azar to open the doors

Excerpt of the letter sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Click here to see the full letter.

AHCJ this week called on the new secretary of health and human services to hold frequent, open press conferences, and protested recent incidents at HHS that were deeply troubling to journalists.

In a letter Monday to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, AHCJ President Ivan Oransky congratulated the secretary on his appointment and expressed hope that reports Azar intends to foster transparency would prove true. Continue reading

CMS decides not to extend contract of consultant who threatened Modern Healthcare

The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services has decided not to extend the contract of the communications consultant who threatened to bar Modern Healthcare from press calls for refusing to alter a story.

The consultant, Brett O’Donnell, had sent a Jan. 24 email to a Modern Healthcare editor saying that “we will not be able to include your outlet in further press calls with CMS” if the publication did not change three sentences about the reasons for a CMS official’s resignation. That threat followed an email exchange the day before in which Virgil Dickson, the reporter who wrote the story, declined O’Donnell’s request to alter his account. Continue reading

CMS makes amends with Modern Healthcare but questions remain

Aurora Aguilar

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has promised Modern Healthcare that all of its reporters will have access to the agency’s telephone press conferences in the future, according to editor-in-chief Aurora Aguilar.

Aguilar said she received that assurance in a phone call from CMS on Monday, the day after Covering Health reported that a communications contractor with CMS had threatened to bar Virgil Dickson, Modern Healthcare’s Washington bureau chief, from press calls if he didn’t delete three sentences from a published story. Continue reading

CMS threatens to bar Modern Healthcare from press calls after reporter refuses to alter story

Virgil Dickson

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threatened to ban a reporter from participating in the federal agency’s telephone news conferences after he refused to delete three sentences from a published story that apparently had rankled CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

The reporter — Virgil Dickson, Washington bureau chief for Modern Healthcare — believed the agency was making good on its threat on Thursday when, he said, his phone went mute during a CMS press call and a woman’s voice told him he was not allowed to participate. An editor later confirmed with CMS officials that he had been banned from press calls, Dickson said. Continue reading