Tag Archives: kids

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

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

Smokeless tobacco use among teens on the rise, even among athletes

Image derived from SETShots via Flickr

The use of snuff and other smokeless tobacco products by American high school students is up significantly, even among high school athletes typically more inclined than their peers to be health conscious, federal health officials say.

In fact, athletes are more likely to use smokeless tobacco than their non-athlete classmates, according to a recently published study. Continue reading

Tennessean reporter investigates complaints over Medicaid dental provider

Tom Wilemon

Tom Wilemon

Quite a few folks in Tennessee are upset right now with DentaQuest, the giant dental benefits company that took over the contract to provide oral health services to poor kids under the state’s Medicaid program earlier this year.

Two hundred black dentists are riled that they were cut from the provider network. The state dental association has withdrawn its support for DentaQuest’s contract. And some consumers (including a group home operator) are saying the company is making it harder for patients to get the care they need.

Meanwhile, company officials insist that no child with TennCare benefits has lost access to dental care under their watch. They defend their performance in Tennessee, saying that screenings have increased and that the state network of 864 providers – one for every 857 patients – exceeds nationally recommended standards.

What is going on? The Tennessean’s Tom Wilemon has been working to find out. His story last month offered a look at the situation.

In this Q&A, he gives an update and some additional insights into his reporting. He also shares some wisdom with others who might find themselves tackling a similar story.

National look reveals gap in access to pediatric dental care

Dental hygenist

Image by The National Guard via flickr.

Catherine Saint Louis of The New York Times took a hard national look at the pediatric dental benefits being offered on the state exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Her reporting led her to the troubling gulf that oral health advocates have been warning about.

While kids’ dental coverage is included as one of the 10 essential health benefits under the nation’s health care reform law, “pediatric dental care is handled differently” from other coverage on the federal and state exchanges, she wrote in her Dec. 16 story, “A Gap In the Affordable Care Act.”

Dental plans “are often sold separately from medical insurance, and dental coverage for children is optional,” she noted. “People shopping on the exchanges are not required to buy it and do not receive financial support for buying it.”

Experts have cautioned that the problems could leave millions of children without access to dental care. Continue reading