New York AG finds COVID-19 nursing home deaths vastly underreported

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: Zeev Barkan via Flickr

Deaths among nursing home residents in New York state have been underreported by as much as 50%, according to a new report from New York State Attorney General Letitia James. James has been investigating nursing homes’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March following allegations of patient neglect and other concerning conduct that may have jeopardized the health and safety of residents and facility employees throughout the state.

Among the report’s findings: many more nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than was reflected in data published by the New York State Department of Health (DOH). Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He is an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

welcomePlease 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

Biden’s executive orders reopen ACA exchanges, initiate review,  amid pandemic

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.

masks drying on a line

Photo: Chris Zúniga via Flickr

President Biden took a big step to aid those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and their employer-sponsored health insurance ordering the federal marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act to reopen on Feb. 15 for a special three-month enrollment period.

Biden’s orders and his comments are online at WhiteHouse.gov. Continue reading

An example of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy reporting done right

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

PfizerVaccine_Blog_Studies_Haelle

Photo: Self Magazine via Flickr

I’ve written previously on Covering Health about the potential harms of reporting on surveys and polls about people’s intent to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In late September, the FDA had not yet authorized any vaccines, so any poll or survey questions were theoretical. Now that vaccines are in distribution, however, does that change things?

Well, yes and no. At that time, I also wrote that vaccine hesitancy wasn’t what we needed to worry about— instead, it was access and equity. Continue reading

Resources for covering the COVID-19 and variants story

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.

There is a growing amount of concern in the U.S. about SARS-CoV-2 variants and the possibility they may diminish the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

The story is evolving. On Jan. 25, the Minnesota Department of Health said a variant, first found in Brazil, was found in a patient in Minnesota. On Jan. 28, the CDC announced that a variant, first found in South Africa, was found in South Carolina.  Both variants have shown a potential to reduce vaccine effectiveness. [See this piece by AHCJ’s Tara Haelle on understanding the nuances of vaccine efficacy.] Continue reading

Study shows food insecurity still common among many older adults

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.

Food being distributed by the National Guard

Photo: The National Guard via Flickr

Food insecurity — when people lack access to food or go hungry due to poverty or other challenges — remains a serious problem for many older adults. A new study finds that more than 25% of people with both Medicaid and Medicare, the dual eligibles, said they were food insecure. Among all older adults in the survey, food insecurity was most common (6.2%) in those 75 to 84; it was least common (4.8%) in adults 85 and older.

Social issues such as hunger, inadequate housing, social isolation and poverty are linked to poor health, especially as we age. Continue reading