Social media resources can help keep you on top of coronavirus crisis

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: DIFD via Flickr

The World Health Organization today declared 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern. This is the sixth such designation since 2009; earlier emergencies included the swine flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014 and 2019, polio in 2014 and Zika in 2016.

For ongoing and up-to-date coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak, check out this Twitter list curated by Bara Vaida, AHCJ’s core topic leader on infectious diseases. Continue reading

In 2020, rebates from pharmaceutical companies deserve more scrutiny

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: 2018 Janssen U.S. Transparency Report. Reprinted with permission.This illustration from a Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies report shows how drug makers pay rebates across the pharmacy supply chain.

One of the big health care stories of the past few years has been how much money pharmaceutical manufacturers spend on rebates to promote prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies pay out rebates to just about every participant in the supply chain.

A report issued last year from the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies (a division of Johnson & Johnson) showed that pharma companies give rebates to those companies that pay for health care (including health insurers, the government, and employers) and to PBMs, hospitals, physician groups, specialty pharmacies, wholesalers, government distributors, and to patients themselves.

Paying rebates to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) helps pharmaceutical companies keep medications on formularies, enticing health care purchasers to buy more drugs. Continue reading

Azar case continues to prolong ACA uncertainty

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.

FPhoto: Thomas Anderson via Flickr

The Supreme Court has declined to take up, on an expedited basis, Texas v. Azar, the conservative states’ lawsuit against the ACA. That doesn’t mean that the case — which argues for scrapping the whole 2010 health law now that the individual mandate penalty has been zeroed out — will never reach the Supreme Court. But it’s now highly unlikely that the high court will rule during President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Supreme Court doesn’t usually take up cases until they’ve worked their way through the lower courts. But as we told you recently, it wasn’t 100 percent clear that they’d follow that tradition in this case. Continue reading

President’s Corner: Issues worth keeping in mind as we head into 2020 elections

Ivan Oransky, M.D.

About Ivan Oransky, M.D.

Ivan Oransky, M.D., president of AHCJ's board of directors, is vice president, editorial, at Medscape and a Distinguished Writer In Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He blogs at Embargo Watch and at Retraction Watch. Follow him at @IvanOransky.

When it comes to debates over health care policy, there are a number of terms that make veteran reporter Joanne Kenen roll her eyes.

There’s “access,” for example. “Saying you have access doesn’t mean you can really tap into that ‘access,’” says Kenen, executive editor for health at Politico and health reform topic leader for AHCJ. “If I have access to something that costs $25,000, that’s not really access. Who is this protecting and what does this really mean?” In other words, Kenen says, “access means whatever you want it to mean.” Continue reading

Study links cognitive decline with early hearing loss

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: Mike Krzeszak via Flickr

Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common health disorders of aging, affecting two-thirds of those over age 70. While hearing loss previously had been linked to higher rates of cognitive decline, a new study finds that this decline may start much earlier than previously thought.

Researchers at Columbia University found that even the earliest stage of hearing loss — when hearing is still considered normal — also is linked to loss of cognitive function. Continue reading

Using numbers to explain vaccine benefits

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: Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr

Do you wrestle with ways to illustrate numbers when writing about vaccines?

Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician in Spokane, Wash., recently offered some ways to do this effectively in a blog post called Vaccine Data: Do the Math.

LaSalle skillfully highlights two examples of how numbers can be used. In one example, related to flu figures, she suggests how real-life context can make the risks of the flu more obvious. In another example, related to measles data, she underscores how numbers can be used to mislead. Continue reading