Understanding the health care debate among Democratic candidates

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.

puzzleFor better or for worse, health care continues to dominate the Democratic primary. If you’re having trouble understanding precisely where each candidate stands, you aren’t alone. It sometimes seems they aren’t quite sure either.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, of course, are the most prominent advocates of a “pure” single-payer coverage system called Medicare for All. It would ban private insurance and significantly overhaul the current system within a few years. (Warren also has an interim coverage plan before Medicare for All). 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

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

New data updates the economic value of family caregiving

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: Betty Tsang via Flickr

About 41 million unpaid family caregivers provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care — worth $470 billion — to their parents, spouses, partners, and friends in 2017, according to a new report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute (PPI). The report explores the growing scope and complexity of caregiving today, which includes an aging population, more family caregivers also in the paid workforce and an increasing amount of medical and nursing tasks now provided at home.

Ensuring better recognition of and support for family caregivers has become a health, economic, and social imperative, according to the report. Several co-authors discussed the analysis at a Nov. 14 press conference during the Gerontological Society of America annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Continue reading

Reporters find stories in efforts to address oral health disparities

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.

Photo: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr

Poor Americans bear more than their share of oral disease. School children from low-income homes are more than twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay as their more affluent peers, according to federal data.

While Medicaid entitles poor children to dental care, adult dental benefits are treated as optional under the program. It is estimated that the majority of the nation’s 60 million elderly and/or disabled Medicare beneficiaries are dentally uninsured. 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