Category Archives: Social determinants

Can agencies stop employees from talking to media? Brechner Center says no 

Madeline Laguaite

About Madeline Laguaite

Madeline Laguaite (@MLaguaite) is pursuing her master’s degree in health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia. Her area of interest is stories about LGBTQ health and mental health.

Public employees have the right to speak to the press without going through the boss, but workplace gag orders continue to violate their freedom of speech, says a report from The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, a nonprofit educational center.

The findings could have particular implications for health care journalists, the center’s director says.

Federal, state or local agencies often impose policies that restrict an employee’s ability to speak with reporters. In a report released in October that examines employees’ First Amendment rights, the center urges news organizations to challenge those rules. Continue reading

New data updates the economic value of family caregiving

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: Betty Tsang via Flickr

About 41 million unpaid family caregivers provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care — worth $470 billion — to their parents, spouses, partners, and friends in 2017, according to a new report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute (PPI). The report explores the growing scope and complexity of caregiving today, which includes an aging population, more family caregivers also in the paid workforce and an increasing amount of medical and nursing tasks now provided at home.

Ensuring better recognition of and support for family caregivers has become a health, economic, and social imperative, according to the report. Several co-authors discussed the analysis at a Nov. 14 press conference during the Gerontological Society of America annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Continue reading

Reporters find stories in efforts to address oral health disparities

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.

Photo: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr

Poor Americans bear more than their share of oral disease. School children from low-income homes are more than twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay as their more affluent peers, according to federal data.

While Medicaid entitles poor children to dental care, adult dental benefits are treated as optional under the program. It is estimated that the majority of the nation’s 60 million elderly and/or disabled Medicare beneficiaries are dentally uninsured. Continue reading

As employers attempt to contain health insurance costs, workers and families struggle too

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.

Photo: Pictures of Money via Flickr

One of the largest and most important parts of our health care system is the role employers play in providing health insurance coverage for workers, retirees, and family members. U.S. employers cover 55.1% of Americans who have health insurance, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

By providing health insurance for more than half of all Americans, employers pay for the biggest share of health coverage in the United States. Continue reading

AHCJ joins groups urging Congress to address communication between journalists and federal agencies

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

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

The Association of Health Care Journalists has joined the Society of Professional Journalists and 25 other journalism and open government groups in urging every member of Congress to support unimpeded communication with journalists for all federal employees.

“It is essential to public welfare and democracy that this issue is addressed. Not allowing experts to speak freely to reporters is authoritarian and keeps sources from explaining a variety of things that are the public’s business,” the groups say in a letter sent to Congress members today.

“This ‘Censorship by PIO’ works in tandem with other assaults on free speech including restrictions on public records, threats and physical assaults on reporters, prosecution of whistleblowers and threats of prosecution against reporters.”

Many groups in the coalition of organizations have been working for several years to spark changes in the restrictions put on federal employees and the lack of freedom to speak to journalists. For more than a decade, AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee has pressed federal officials to improve journalists’ access to federal experts.

Continue reading 

Getting to the truth when covering measles outbreak

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: CDC/PHIL

A basic tenant in reporting is that there are two sides to a story, but in public health, that may not always be the case, says Melba Newsome, a Charlotte, N.C.-based freelance health care journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, O magazine, Time, and other publications.

Newsome was confronted with this challenge when writing an in-depth story for CQ Researcher on the recent measles outbreak, and the story behind how the contagious disease has made a come back in the era of modern medicine. Continue reading