Author Archives: Joseph Burns

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.

Story about genetic testing company’s problems shows how good reporting stands up to criticism

Photo: Canadian Blood Services via Flickr

In December 2016, Charles Piller (@cpiller), the west coast editor for Stat, reported that a genetic test to identify patients who could be prone to addiction lacked a firm scientific basis.

With an eye-opening headline, “Called ‘hogwash,’ a gene test for addiction risk exploits opioid fears,” the article raised important questions about the Proove Opioid Risk test from Proove Biosciences in Irvine, Calif. Continue reading

Being ‘underinsured’ another measure of health coverage

A recent Commonwealth Fund report shows that the rate of Americans who are underinsured reached 41 percent last year, up from 12 percent in 2003. The fund defines an underinsured person as having been insured all year but with out-of-pocket costs (excluding premiums) of 10 percent or more of income; out-of-pocket costs, excluding premiums, equal to 5 percent or more of income if low-income; or deductibles equal to 5 percent or more of income.

The Commonwealth Fund

This year the rate of those who are uninsured has risen steadily, as the Gallup Sharecare Well Being Index shows. In the third quarter, the share of Americans without health insurance was 12.3 percent, according to Gallup’s most recent quarterly report.

After President Donald Trump announced that he would end cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Danielle Wiener-Bronner covered the story for CNN and Jeffrey Young wrote about it for The Huffington Post. Continue reading

Trump administration likely to face legal challenges to its double punch at ACA

The Trump administration dealt a one-two punch to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. Trump’s executive order would give Americans the option of buying lower-cost health insurance, but also could usher back the bare-bones insurance options that the Affordable Care Act was designed to eliminate.

In addition, Trump directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to end the cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) to health insurers required under the ACA effective immediately. The payments always have been controversial, and the Trump administration, in justifying its action, noted that House Republicans earlier successfully challenged them in court. Continue reading

Genetic testing company blames press coverage for bankruptcy filing

Charles Piller

Proove Biosciences, a genetic testing company in Irvine, Calif., was placed into court-ordered receivership at the end of August for “restructuring and asset sale.” Proove’s founder and former CEO Brian Meshkin has blamed the company’s financial problems on investigative articles that Charles Piller, West Coast editor for Stat, wrote about the company’s lead product over the last several months, according to Pillar’s coverage of the receivership proceedings.

Meshkin, who called Piller’s reporting about Proove “erroneous and damaging.” He claimed that stories were based on false allegations from disgruntled employees, ignoring that Piller also had quoted genetic testing experts skeptical of the scientific claims behind the Proove Opioid Risk test. Proove has marketed the test as a way for doctors to predict a patient’s likelihood of becoming addicted to opioids. Continue reading

These reports can provide a useful baseline to assess the administration’s health insurance efforts

Source: Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the January–March 2017 National Health Interview Survey, September 2017. National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program.For January through March of this year, the rate of Americans who were without health insurance was 8.8 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Whatever actions Congress and the Trump administration ultimately take to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or in the short term attempt to weaken it, we already know their efforts will affect how many Americans have health insurance. The question now is how much of an effect their efforts will have.

We have sources that can provide a baseline for discussion, such as the National Center for Health Statistics’ (NCHS) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Gallup Sharecare Well-Being Index. Both resources base their data on surveys and are regularly updated. Continue reading