Short-term, limited-duration health plans assailed in Congressional Democrats’ report

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: “Shortchanged: How the Trump Administration’s Expansion of Junk Short-Term Health Insurance Plans is Putting Americans at Risk,” U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democratic staff report, June 2020.Short-term limited duration insurance plans spend less than half of consumers’ premiums on medical care, while insurance plans that comply with the rules of the Affordable Care Act spend 80 percent to 85 percent of premium income on medical care, according to a recent congressional staff report.

Short-term, limited-duration insurance plans threaten the health and financial well-being of American families, according to a recent staff report from Congressional Democrats on the Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C). The report is a result of an investigation that staff conducted into nine health insurers, including UnitedHealth Group and Anthem, and five insurance company brokers that sell these plans for insurers.

“These plans are simply a bad deal for consumers, and oftentimes leave patients who purchase them saddled with thousands of dollars in medical debt,” according to “Shortchanged: How the Trump Administration’s Expansion of Junk Short-Term Health Insurance Plans is Putting Americans at Risk.” The committee’s investigation into how these plans operate outlines what the report calls “the deeply concerning industry practices” of STLDI plans and the insurance brokers who sell them. Continue reading

Food insecurity a growing issue for seniors, compounded by pandemic

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.

senior-eating

Photo: Ross Pollack via Flickr

While people in parts of the U.S. slowly return to work and leisure activities, food insecurity remains a serious issue for many Americans, according to a June Census Bureau analysis. It’s an especially concerning problem for older Americans, who may still be hesitant to leave their homes to go grocery shopping, especially if they must rely on public transportation

The pandemic has worsened the problem of food insecurity among older adults. Feeding America’s most recent report found that that 5.3 million seniors, or 7.3% of the senior population, were food insecure in 2018.  In the wake of COVID-19, they estimate that some 54 million Americans of all ages may face hunger in 2020. Continue reading

AHCJ backs public data about COVID-19 hospitalizations

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Hospital

Photo: Norman Mosjos via Flickr

The Association of Health Care Journalists strongly urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to keep public all data related to COVID-19 hospitalizations and to post the numbers as soon as they are available.

The Trump administration ordered hospitals to stop reporting COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send patient information to a central database in Washington, D.C., starting this week.

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House passes first bill to expand the ACA

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.

Photo: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

The House recently passed a health reform bill – and it’s a definite win for the incrementalists.

The Democratic presidential primaries – which now feel like they took place in another universe, long ago and far away – were animated by a significant divide over whether to move to a single-payer “Medicare for All” health care system or to build upon the Affordable Care Act. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wants to build on the ACA and favors adding a public option. Continue reading

In writing about whether schools will open for in-person classes, check case counts in kids

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Photo: BES Photos via Flickr

As you write about the continuing back and forth over the how and when — and if — it will be safe to reopen schools for on-site classes next month, journalists might ask these questions:

  • What do case counts in children and teens look like in your area?
  • Are they growing every day?
  • If so, how fast?
  • Are the children symptomatic?
  • And are their teachers, administrators, family members and friends getting sick?

In California, for example, case counts among those 17 and younger have been climbing, from 1.3% of the state’s case counts on April 7 (222) to 3.4% on May 7 (2,181) to 8.3% as of Saturday (July 11), (26,652). Continue reading

Biogen submits BLA for an Alzheimer’s drug with a controversial past

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: GollyGforce via Flickr

Could an Alzheimer’s drug finally be on the horizon? Possibly ― if the FDA agrees with data from several Biogen clinical trials ― but approval is still far from a sure bet.

The company, on July 9, submitted its biologics license application (BLA) for aducanumab, an investigational treatment for the disease. The submission includes clinical data from Phase 3 EMERGE and ENGAGE studies, as well as the Phase 1B PRIME study. Biogen has requested an accelerated review, potentially putting the medication on a path for a final decision by March 2021. However, data from these Phase 3 trials are not without controversy in the scientific community.

“Aducanumab, a so-called monoclonal antibody designed to target amyloid plaque in the brain, has been one of the most closely watched drugs in development for several years,” according to Bloomberg News. Continue reading