Nursing homes get more financial help, must test more often

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: michael_swan via Flickr

U.S. nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid will be getting a $5 billion infusion of “provider relief funds” from the Department of Health and Human Services, President Trump announced on July 22. The funds are meant to help with testing, purchasing personal protective equipment and hiring additional staff.

Nursing homes in “hot spots” like Florida, Texas, and California will be at the top of the list, according to The Seattle Times. The funding package also includes the distribution of additional rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing devices. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services also will begin requiring, rather than just recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5% positivity rate or higher test all nursing home staff each week. This new staff testing requirement is designed to better keep the virus from entering and spreading through nursing homes by identifying asymptomatic carriers. Continue reading

AHCJ webcast to explore how schools might safely reopen this fall

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: Phil Roeder via Flickr

America’s 13,000 school systems have been under tremendous pressure to reopen in-person classes this fall but are struggling with how to do it safely and handle the increased costs.

The CDC on July 23 launched a webpage highlighting what it described as science-based resources and tools to guide school administrators, childcare providers, teachers and parents in resuming operations. Some of the content, however, has been criticized by experts who advocate a more cautious approach. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and served for nearly 20 years in daily journalism.

Please welcome these new professional and student members to AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Journalist digs through data sources to show how deal changed Montana’s insurance market

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.

scales of justiceCovering health insurance in a less-populated state can be a significant challenge for journalists because most often, there’s not enough enrollment data to support robust reporting on trends that affect consumers.

Katheryn Houghton learned this lesson when working as a daily news reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana. In May, she left the Chronicle and now works as a freelance health care journalist in Missoula. Continue reading

Short-term, limited-duration health plans assailed in Congressional Democrats’ report

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.

Source: “Shortchanged: How the Trump Administration’s Expansion of Junk Short-Term Health Insurance Plans is Putting Americans at Risk,” U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democratic staff report, June 2020.Short-term limited duration insurance plans spend less than half of consumers’ premiums on medical care, while insurance plans that comply with the rules of the Affordable Care Act spend 80 percent to 85 percent of premium income on medical care, according to a recent congressional staff report.

Short-term, limited-duration insurance plans threaten the health and financial well-being of American families, according to a recent staff report from Congressional Democrats on the Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C). The report is a result of an investigation that staff conducted into nine health insurers, including UnitedHealth Group and Anthem, and five insurance company brokers that sell these plans for insurers.

“These plans are simply a bad deal for consumers, and oftentimes leave patients who purchase them saddled with thousands of dollars in medical debt,” according to “Shortchanged: How the Trump Administration’s Expansion of Junk Short-Term Health Insurance Plans is Putting Americans at Risk.” The committee’s investigation into how these plans operate outlines what the report calls “the deeply concerning industry practices” of STLDI plans and the insurance brokers who sell them. Continue reading

Food insecurity a growing issue for seniors, compounded by pandemic

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.

senior-eating

Photo: Ross Pollack via Flickr

While people in parts of the U.S. slowly return to work and leisure activities, food insecurity remains a serious issue for many Americans, according to a June Census Bureau analysis. It’s an especially concerning problem for older Americans, who may still be hesitant to leave their homes to go grocery shopping, especially if they must rely on public transportation

The pandemic has worsened the problem of food insecurity among older adults. Feeding America’s most recent report found that that 5.3 million seniors, or 7.3% of the senior population, were food insecure in 2018.  In the wake of COVID-19, they estimate that some 54 million Americans of all ages may face hunger in 2020. Continue reading