CDC finds ‘chemical of concern’ in vaping-relating illness investigation

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.

Vitamin E acetate, a common additive to dietary supplements and cosmetics, has been identified as a likely culprit in a national outbreak of deaths and serious illnesses traced to vaping.

Researchers tested fluid samples from the lungs of 29 patients with e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) that were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Continue reading

Names of campaign health care advisers are tightly kept secrets

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.

confidential-fileMuddled arguments about health care have, for better or worse, so far dominated the Democratic primary debates. Every once in a while Cory Booker steps up to explain to the television audience – and perhaps the candidates themselves – that the disagreements aren’t as cosmic as they seem.

Every Democrat on stage wants to expand coverage and to use government programs to achieve that while the Republicans are still talking about repealing the ACA or killing it through the courts. Continue reading

Reporter discusses search for ‘vent farm’ patient’s identity

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.

Joanne Faryon

Joanne Faryon

It’s not a good idea to try to do anything else while listening to Joanne Faryon’s podcast about “Sixty-Six Garage,” a man who went unidentified in a San Diego “vent farm,” aka skilled nursing facility, for 15 years. Her gripping oral recount of how she quit her job in 2015 and spent her own money and resources to find out who he was and how he ended up this way, attached to ventilators and unable to speak or move, is chilling.

The story of “Garage” represents also another angle on the story of immigration, and how the vehicle accident just north of the California/Mexico border resulted, possibly, because he was being chased by a border agent’s helicopter. 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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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