COLUMBIA, Mo. – Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2020 journalism contest, reflecting how well the profession explained the new coronavirus and how officials responded to it.
Seven of the 12 first-place winners focused on aspects of the pandemic. The contest drew 451 total entries, with strong interest in all divisions.
Lisa Krieger, science and research reporter for the Mercury News in San Jose, won first place in the beat reporting category for a set of compelling pieces about the crisis, including how the virus infects people, why there were so few treatments and why scientists believed vaccines could be successful.
“Lisa Krieger recognized this story earlier than most and explained it clearly, drawing real patients into almost every piece,” the contest judges wrote.
Here are just a few of the mental health initiatives that the Biden Administration appears poised to pursue, according to policy watchers and influencers.
- Increased federal enforcement of an Affordable Care Act mandate that insurance companies put mental health care on par with all other health care.
- Heightened oversight of short-term insurance policies that President Trump supported, but critics derided as “junk insurance” because they did not cover mental illness or behavioral, substance abuse and similar disorders.
- More federal support to help municipalities join a nationwide emergency 988 call line — signed into law in 2020 by Trump — aimed at lowering suicide rates, police intervention in emergencies involving persons with mental illness and handling other mental health crises.
- Urging Congress to approve $4 billion to help the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) expand services as the pressures of COVID-19 have prompted record numbers to people to seek mental and behavioral health care.
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
American Rescue Plan, KFF.
On Thursday, some 7 million uninsured Americans became eligible for free health insurance under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) that President Biden signed into law in March, Dylan Scott reported at Vox. Other reports showed that some 11 million Americans became eligible for assistance paying for their health insurance premiums.
Scott’s reporting was based on what he said were new federal projections shared exclusively with Vox. When the ARP took effect on April 1, it greatly expanded eligibility for premium-payment assistance (also called subsidies or premium tax credits) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help individuals and families pay for health insurance coverage bought on the federal marketplace (at healthcare.gov) and on the state-run marketplaces, he noted. Continue reading
Photo: Amanda Mills/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food insecurity is a nicer way of saying people are going hungry. Many of those people are older adults—often poor, with limited means of obtaining enough to eat. They must decide whether to spend their meager budgets on food, medication, or housing; many do not even know where their next meal is coming from.
Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one in seven adults between 50 and 80 had trouble getting enough food because of cost or other issues, according to a 2020 University of Michigan Healthy Aging poll. Since then, the problem has only gotten worse.
The pandemic has also exacerbated existing disparities among Black and Latino populations according to the USDA: Black and Latino adults are more than twice as likely as white adults to report that their households did not get enough to eat. We highlighted the issue of food insecurity back in June 2020 in this webinar. Has anything changed since March 2020? Continue reading
Alarm over the impact of COVID-19 misinformation has been growing, especially with increasing efforts by right-wing groups to spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
The effort to end the pandemic through vaccination could stall if too many people refuse to take the vaccine because they don’t have the correct facts to make a decision. It can be a daily battle by journalists to correct false statements on social media — especially for those on the fact-checking beat.
“It is hard to stay on top of everything,” Daniel Funke, staff writer at PolitiFact, a non-partisan fact-checking website, said during a recent How I Did It interview for AHCJ. “We don’t have a great way to quantify misinformation and where it is coming from because we’d have to fact check everything on the internet.” Continue reading