Category Archives: Government

Former reporter offers new angles for covering vaccines, public health crises

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

Health reporters looking for another angle on covering vaccine debates should consider digging into the legal challenges public health officials face in considering quarantines and legislative measures prodding people to vaccinate their children, says Doug Levy, a former USA Today health journalist and author of the book “The Communications Golden Hour: The Essential Guide to Public Information When Every Minute Counts.”

Levy spent years in the trenches as a member of the media, and then as a communications leader for two large health systems.  He thinks journalists are missing the boat if they keep focusing stories just on people’s concerns about the safety of vaccines. 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.

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2019 AHCJ-CDC fellows announced

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has announced the selection of a new class of AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellows. The 12 journalists – supported through a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust – will spend a week studying public health issues at the  Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The AHCJ-directed fellowship program will include presentations, roundtable discussions and tours on epidemiology, global disease prevention efforts, chronic diseases, vaccines, foodborne disease, influenza, opioids, e-cigarettes and other topics.

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IG report: Some states fall short on oversight of surgery centers

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.

Photo: Hospital UTPL via Flickr

Here’s a somewhat worrisome report from the Office of Inspector General.  Some two-thirds of the ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the nation are supposed to be surveyed for quality and safety issues by their state health agency, according to Medicare rules. But a troubling number of states seem to be ignoring their responsibility.

Since Medicare reimburses ASCs for certain approved procedures — including some that carry higher risks for complications — federal officials have set requirements for how often and how extensively those state agencies are supposed to inspect those facilities.  One could argue, and many have, that stricter standards should be put into place, but this report is just about the compliance of the ones that do exist. Continue reading

Older Americans Act expires Sept. 30 – will Congress act in time?

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: Bodo Tasche via Flickr

The Older Americans Act (OAA) expires on Sept. 30, 2019, and there’s still no bill ready for either a House or Senate vote. Traditionally, this legislation receives wide bipartisan support, but legislators are still attempting to work out some differences between what the Trump administration wants and provisions Democrats and advocacy groups would like to add.

The Senate is at an impasse regarding funding authorization levels and the funding formula, including “hold harmless” provisions. The House Education and Labor Committee announced on Friday that their OAA bill will be introduced on Monday and the committee will mark it up and likely pass it on Wednesday. Continue reading

Resources for covering Hurricane Dorian and disaster preparedness

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.

Image: NOAA

As Hurricane Dorian reaches closer to landfall in Florida or southern Georgia this weekend, we’ve updated our list of resources to help reporters connect with public health officials and other sources.

Excessive flooding and damage to local health infrastructure means people will be dealing with the public health effects of the storm for a while.

Even if you’re not reporting on an affected location, this may be a good time to ask some questions of your local public health leaders and write about disaster preparedness issues. Here are some resources to help craft those questions: Continue reading