Tag Archives: health care

Understanding the health care debate among Democratic candidates

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.

puzzleFor better or for worse, health care continues to dominate the Democratic primary. If you’re having trouble understanding precisely where each candidate stands, you aren’t alone. It sometimes seems they aren’t quite sure either.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, of course, are the most prominent advocates of a “pure” single-payer coverage system called Medicare for All. It would ban private insurance and significantly overhaul the current system within a few years. (Warren also has an interim coverage plan before Medicare for All). Continue reading

Brill reminds New York AHCJ members to follow the money

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.

AHCJ New York members gained a unique look this week into how journalist, author, and businessman Steven Brill researched and compiled his now-infamous 36-page Time Magazine articleBitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.” The article took a hard look at the costs of hospital care in the United States – from the $70 box of gauze pads to a $50,000 up-front payment demand by one top cancer facility before doctors there would even evaluate a terminally ill patient.

That March 4 opus added fuel to an already contentious debate about the skyrocketing cost of U.S. health care. Brill emphasized the huge price discrepancies between what it costs hospitals and what they charge Medicare, private insurers, and direct-billed patients for identical care. “It was really a question of just doing some math,” he said.

Brill detailed his efforts to get satisfactory explanations from hospital CEOs about their multimillion dollar salaries while someone who had no health insurance was paying perhaps hundreds of dollars for a product that could be purchased in a local drugstore for pocket change.  He explained how he obtained copies of actual hospital bills – for hundreds of thousand of dollars in some cases – and how he tracked down and analyzed the price differentials charged to public, private and non-insured patients. Continue reading

Investigation: Peace Corps health system failing to provide for volunteers

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In recent years, there has been a steady drumbeat of troubling news about federal support for Peace Corps volunteers, including a GAO report, federal legislation, and even a statement from the Corps’ acting director. Over at FairWarning, Lilly Fowler has worked with former volunteers to organize this steady stream of negative press into a report that the Peace Corps is not providing adequate health coverage to its volunteers, both past and present.

Fowler’s report dives deep into the bureaucracy surrounding the Corps’ treatment of health care claims, but the heart of the matter is quite simple:

Interviews by FairWarning with more than a dozen former Peace Corps personnel – about half of them members of Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, an advocacy group – highlighted the struggles of harmed volunteers. Many failed to gain government-paid medical care when they returned to the U.S. because they couldn’t find doctors registered with FECA. What’s more, they say, claims for medical insurance reimbursements often bog down or are rejected because of bureaucratic bottlenecks and the lack of information provided to volunteers.

There have been many attempts to reform the system in recent years, Fowler finds, but none have led to comprehensive or lasting change.

Putting the health care bill into perspective

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

“What’s in it for me?”

That’s the central question in an article from the Associated Press’ Carla Johnson that explores how the health care bill would affect five Americans.

The people profiled include a tenuously insured student working part-time, an uninsured consultant, a business owner, an uninsured man living in a shelter for the homeless and a Florida retiree.

As Johnson points out, how the health care bill will affect people depends a great deal on their age, income, your business and your current insurance. But this is a useful vantage point for telling the stories that really matter: how policy affects real life.

Health care bill moves forward

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Following the Senate vote on the health care bill, reporters have rushed to cover the latest developments. Here is just a bit of the coverage:

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Erica Warner of The Associated Press have a point-by-point comparison of the Senate and House health care bills. Werner also has an interesting look at the winners and losers in the bill, including the residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom suffer from asbestos-related illnesses from a now-closed mineral mining operation.

On The Wall Street Journal‘s health blog, Jacob Goldstein reports on the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates on the Senate bill with the “public option lite” – with private plans overseen by a government agency.

Reuters’ Donna Smith offers an overview of the Senate health care bill in a Q&A format.

Scott Hensley of NPR’s Shots blog notes the weekend’s key development that led to the bill moving forward and he looks ahead to reconciliation.

In a piece that appears in USA Today, Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News points out that mandates, such as requiring all Americans to have health insurance, do not guarantee compliance. His article explains the mandate and the penalties for those who choose to go uninsured.

In the Los Angeles Times, Kim Geiger and James Oliphant also look at the mandate: why its in the bill, how it can cover people with expensive illnesses and “age rating.”

Plenty more coverage is emerging by the minute. Here is the bill.