New health insurance subsidies will require strong explanatory journalism skills

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.

Number eligible for subsidies, American Rescue Plan, KFF.

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

Tip sheet highlights ongoing problem of food insecurity for 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

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

One journalist’s efforts to counter misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines

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.

Daniel Funke

Daniel Funke

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

Vaccine hesitancy among rural elders, caregivers nearly double of more urban counterparts

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.

Older man with a band-aid on his upper arm

Photo: SELF Magazine via Flickr

A recent survey of family caregivers revealed some troubling information about the divide between rural and urban communities regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the poll, nearly one in three (31%) family caregivers who live in rural communities say they won’t take the older adult under their care to get the COVID-19 vaccine—nearly double the refusal rate of urban and suburban caregivers (16%). About the same number (36%) of rural caregivers say they won’t get vaccinated themselves.

Safety concerns primarily drive caregivers’ unwillingness to get the vaccine for their loved ones and themselves, according to survey respondents. Among the rural family caregivers surveyed, an overwhelming 81% have doubts that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and more than a quarter (28%) are “not at all confident” in the vaccine’s safety. In comparison, 9% of their urban and suburban peers are not at all confident. Taken together, experts say the findings show how difficult it will be to save lives in communities where access to healthcare is already limited. Continue reading

New tip sheet helps you find the precisely right expert when you need them

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.

I’ve written before about the importance of finding not just any expert but one with detailed expertise in the specific area you need when covering a study. In that context, it was with COVID-19, but the same holds true with any research. If you’re covering a nutrition study, calling up any nutritionist to get an outside opinion does not ensure you are getting a fully informed opinion from someone familiar with the evidence. You need a nutrition researcher who is very familiar with the specific research in the paper. Continue reading

Report says better evidence needed on effective dementia interventions

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.

Caregiver showing book to man

Photo: Brian Walker via Flickr

Strong evidence on dementia care interventions is lacking, and what exists does not reflect the experiences of diverse populations, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Most existing community-based programs don’t offer clear proof they work to address the care and services needed by those with the disease or their caregivers, the report found.

Members of the ad hoc NASEM committee assessed the current body of evidence on care interventions for those living with dementia and their caregivers to help guide decision-making about which interventions should be broadly disseminated and implemented and to model for future actions and research. A systematic review found only two programs had any evidence of benefit, and those were only supported by low-strength evidence: Collaborative Care models, which integrate medical and psychosocial care, and Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) II, an intervention aimed at supporting family caregivers. Continue reading