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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Are the eyes a window into Alzheimer’s risk?

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: Nan Palmero via Flickr

Can your eyes predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) years before cognitive symptoms appear? Findings in a recent study may hold promise for such early detection, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego.

AD starts altering and damaging the brain years — even decades — before symptoms appear, making early identification of risk paramount to slowing its progression. Continue reading

Report explains the need for a waste-free formulary for pharmacy benefits

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: Marko Javorac via Flickr

A recent study from the Commonwealth Fund and the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) shows that developing a waste-free formulary by cutting the number of high-cost, low-value drugs in employers’ health benefit plans could save employers as much as 24% in pharmacy spending.

Concern about rising prescription drug costs has caused large self-insured employers to develop innovative formularies for the pharmacy benefit plans they provide to employees, their family members and retirees. A formulary is a list of drugs that employers and health plans include in their benefit plans for employees and members. Continue reading

New rule allows Medicare reimbursement to ambulatory surgery centers for knee replacements, stents

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.

Knee replacement surgeries and stenting procedures will now be reimbursed in free-standing ambulatory surgery centers for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries as of Jan. 1 under a new rule finalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday.

The controversial policy shift will mean hundreds, if not tens of thousands, of older patients will now have these complex procedures in a facility not attached to a hospital, and will go home the same day. 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

Tip sheet, article focus on creating a podcast about aging

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: Matthew Keefe via Flickr

Ever thought about starting a podcast? You’re not alone. There are an estimated 750,000 podcasts, and 30 million episodes available across various platforms, according to Podcast Insights. Podcasts come in all lengths, formats, and subjects imaginable — and maybe even some you’ve never thought about.

But doing a podcast well and gaining a steady audience require a little more than you and your beer buddy hanging out in your basement with a microphone and recording device. How to best break through and get noticed? Continue reading