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.

Reports, tip sheet explore payment reform as a way to reduce high C-section rates

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

In a report late last year, the Commonwealth Fund included two statistics about women’s health that were particularly startling.

In that report, “U.S. Women More Likely to Die in Pregnancy and Childbirth and Skip Care Because of Cost, Multi-Nation Survey Finds; C-Section Rates Rank Among Highest, the authors wrote that first, as many journalists have reported (such as Alison Young for USA Today and Nina Martin for ProPublica and Julia Belluz for Vox), pregnancy and childbirth are more dangerous for women in the United States than they are for women in other high-income nations. Continue reading

When reporting on efforts to reduce drug prices, be skeptical and follow the money

The Trump administration has been talking tough on drug prices for many months and, of course, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations have pushed back because they mostly oppose controls on the free market for prescription drugs.

For health care journalists covering these proposals, it’s essential to remain skeptical of any group that offers support or opposition and, as always, follow the money. Continue reading

California reporter followed one lead after another to an award-winning series

Photo: Attila Malarik via Flckr

To some of us, this procedure might have sounded too good to be true: A national network of infusion clinics offers to relieve just about any complication from diabetes, including neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular problems and erectile dysfunction. It can do so as long as each diabetes patient enrolled is willing to sit for four hours every week or two while a pump pushes insulin through the patient’s veins.

Offered by Trina Health, this procedure was said to mimic the effect of the pancreas. But there was no data showing it worked; only testimonials from people who said they had been patients. But, to some desperate patients, it seemed plausible. Continue reading

Reporter finds reviewing comments on federal proposals provided insight into what was to come

What can journalists learn from reading the comments that health care professionals send to federal agencies that propose new rules for health insurers? The short answer is: quite a lot.

Last year, Noam N. Levey poured over about 10,000 comments from health care provider organizations and other groups submitted to federal agencies about their concerns regarding the Trump Administration’s plans to revise the rules for short-term health insurance plans and association health plans. What Levey found was almost unanimous opposition to both proposals. In a new tip sheet, Levey explained what he found while reviewing the comments on both proposals and offered ideas that may be useful for other journalists considering doing a similar review. Continue reading

Researchers asking tough questions about Medicare’s readmission reduction program

Photo: Naoki Takano via Flickr

Researchers and health policy experts are questioning the value of Medicare’s efforts to reduce 30-day hospital readmissions.

The latest example came this week when Health Affairs published research on what happened after Medicare added hip and knee replacement surgeries to the list of conditions for which it would penalize hospitals for having high rates of readmissions.

Continue reading

Webcast to focus on the value of ‘value-based’ care

In a blog post last summer, we asked what appeared to be a simple question: Is value-based care a fad? It turns out that while the question may be simple, the answer is a bit more complicated.

After the blog post ran, we heard from the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, Austin. The school has a department devoted to teaching value-based care to its medical students. AHCJ will host a webcast at noon ET on Tuesday, June 25, for members featuring two of the school’s professors — Elizabeth Teisberg, Ph.D., and Scott Wallace — who will answer questions about value-based care and explain what students in this program are learning. Continue reading