Tag Archives: columbia journalism review

Sunshine Week may drop employee, fundraising

Clint Hendler reports in the Columbia Journalism Review that Sunshine Week’s only full-time coordinator will likely lose her job soon.


Photo by **Mary** via Flickr

The media-sponsored weeklong push for open government will be put together on a part-time basis by an employee at the American Society of News Editors. Sponsors hope the event has gained enough momentum to keep going with less intensive planning and organization and more reliance upon volunteer efforts.

The Knight Foundation grants that kept the event going since its 2005 inception have run their course, and a major fundraising push raised only $471,600 of a planned $2.5 million towards a permanent endowment. The Knight Foundation will match any funds raised. According to Hendler, the disappointing totals have led ASNE to pull resources out of fundraising efforts and instead devote them to keeping Sunshine Week going.

CJR: Unmask AMA’s push to steer reform, please

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Trudy Lieberman, president of AHCJ’s board of directors, notes that the mighty American Medical Association has started to throw its weight around in the reform arena and, to protect revenues, seems to be siding with the big insurers and pharmaceutical companies. It has been pushing for a universal coverage mandate without publicly funded options — at stance that looks mighty similar to those of its less popular allies. So far, though, the AMA has dodged the majority of the blame. Lieberman calls upon health care journalists to dig deeper into the AMA’s reform involvement and help publicize its role in the process.

CJR examines potential, weaknesses of health IT

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Trudy Lieberman, president of AHCJ’s board of directors, sought to shed light on the nebulous promise of health information technology by interviewing Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy expert and professor of social medicine and health policy & management at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill.health-info-tech

Focusing on the example of electronic medical records, Oberlander said only a small percentage of hospitals had adopted electronic medical records, primarily due to their prohibitive cost. Stimulus money, $19 billion of it, has been directed toward the problem, though the language — hospitals and practices should adopt “meaningful” information technology is vague — and payments won’t arrive until next year, at the earliest.

According to Oberlander, patients may not even benefit from all the money being thrown at health technology (and thus to hospitals and tech firms) unless it’s implemented properly. Likewise, Oberlander says, even widespread adoption of EMRs and other health IT likely won’t lead to substantial cost reductions.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the HIT provisions of the stimulus legislation could reduce federal spending on health care benefits by about $13 billion over the next decade. But the program will cost about $32 billion to implement in Medicare and Medicaid, so spending on HIT will increase the deficit by $19 billion or so during that decade.

Oberlander calls health IT “overhyped” because it’s such a politically attractive and relatively painless solution, and warns that, in the end, we can’t simply “compute our way out of the health care cost problem.”

He called for a more integrated national health IT system and said journalists should focus more attention on exactly who stands to profit from all the money being poured into the arena.

(Image by southerntabitha via Flickr)