Category Archives: Government

Older Americans Act Reauthorization signed into law

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: Kate Gardiner via Flickr

With practically everyone working overtime to cover COVID-19, you may have missed an important milestone last week. President Trump signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization into law on March 25 after the U.S. Senate earlier in the month unanimously passed the bipartisan legislation co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Aging Committee. (It passed in the House on March 11.) Continue reading

What you need to know about freelancer legislation in 2020

Carolyn Crist

About Carolyn Crist

Carolyn Crist (@cristcarolyn) helps AHCJ’s freelance members find the resources, tips and contacts they need to create and run a successful business. A freelance journalist and author, Crist covers health, medicine and science stories for national news outlets such as Reuters, Runner’s World and Parade. She also writes for trade and custom publications. Contact her at carolyn@healthjournalism.org.

By now, you’ve likely heard about the independent contractor bills in several states that could derail how freelance writers do business in 2020. In California, for instance, where AB 5 took effect on Jan. 1, freelancers are already being blacklisted from certain publications, losing weekly columns and seeing reduced contract terms. Journalists in New Jersey (S4204/A5936) and New York (S6699A/A8721A) are pushing against similar legislation in their own states.

The details shift quickly, so here’s the latest (and where to connect with others) in 2020: Continue reading

Will the ACA individual mandate case go directly to the Supreme Court?

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Supreme Court

Photo by dbking via Flickr

Under the most usual course of events, the Supreme Court would not consider (again) the fate of the Affordable Care Act smack in the midst of the 2020 presidential elections.

But we aren’t living amid “usual” course of events. A coalition of state attorneys general wants the legal process speeded up. And while it’s not that likely that the high court will agree, it’s not impossible either.

In December the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals voided the ACA’s individual mandate. But it didn’t agree with the earlier District Court ruling from December 2018 that because the mandate is unconstitutional, the whole law is invalid. Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading