For The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., Hiran Ratnayake dug through more than 100 complaints filed last year against the state’s insurers for undue delays in payment. In them, he finds some key anecdotes and little hope that companies’ responses would speed up in the future.
State law requires that claims be paid within 30 days, and at least three insurers who do business in the state were handed significant fines for a “pattern of delays.” Ratnayake tells the stories of patients whose claims have been approved but who have made dozens of calls when their insurance companies don’t receive payment and other tactics that appear to be intended to delay payments.
Furthermore, Ratnayake quotes an expert who predicted that “delays will become more frequent as more people become insured under the [health care reform] act.” The act does not address prompt payment regulations, Ratnayake reports.
In addition to his local reporting, Ratnayake used HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ speech at Health Journalism 2010 to provide national context.
Sebelius said recently that the federal government would engage in “hand-to-hand combat” with health insurers over problems related to policyholders’ plans.
AHCJ has sponsored 12 journalists to take part in a two-day workshop at the CDC about covering seasonal influenza and the A-H1N1 flu virus, now grabbing the headlines.
The workshop, taking place today and tomorrow, includes a series of on-the-record sessions with CDC experts to prepare front-line journalists for the upcoming flu season. Public health experts are providing a primer on the flu, examine how it is being tracked, expectations for vaccines and antivirals, and what communities can do to deal with the fallout.
On Monday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, joined by CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, was a surprise addition to the schedule.
The AHCJ-sponsored journalists are:
- Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle
- Ran An, China Newsweek
- Kim Archer, Tulsa World
- Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
- Blythe Bernhard, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Don Finley, San Antonio Express-News
- Jeff Hansel, Rochester Post-Bulletin
- Sandra Jordan, St. Louis American
- Alma Martinez, Radio Bilingue
- Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Fred Tasker, The Miami Herald
- Eric Whitney, Colorado Public Radio
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has been unanimously confirmed as director of the National Institutes of Health, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.
“Dr. Collins is one of our generation’s great scientific leaders. A physician and geneticist, Dr. Collins served as Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he led the Human Genome Project to completion,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader. Today is an exciting day for NIH and for science in this country.”
Francis S. Collins
Collins, a geneticist, had received some attention when he was nominated because of his religious beliefs. The evangelical Christian wrote a book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.”
Jacob Molyneux, senior editor at the American Journal of Nursing, examined some of what was written about Francis at the time and looked at the then-nominee’s statements and records, including those about the use of embryonic stem cells for research. He concluded that “for Collins, science and the potential for alleviation of human suffering trump moral or religious absolutism and blind adherence to the sanctity of life issue.”
The Los Angeles Times ran a point-counterpoint piece about the topic, Newsweek‘s religion editor weighed in, and The New York Times ran an op-ed by an author who is “uncomfortable” with Francis’ nomination. Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle did a Q&A with Josh Rosenau from the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution in public schools.
The Obama administration has created a deputy food commissioner position to coordinate safety in the case of an outbreak of salmonella and is creating a better system to track and identify the origins of foodborne illnesses.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will discuss the initiatives in a live online chat today (July 7) at 2:15 p.m. ET. To participate, visit http://apps.facebook.com/whitehouselive/.
A press release sas that “Sebelius and Vilsack will discuss the continuing work of the Food Safety Working Group – a recently established partnership between HHS and the Department of Agriculture tasked with upgrading food safety laws, fostering coordination throughout government, and ensuring the safety of America’s food supply.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will provide an overview of the HHS budget for fiscal year 2010 at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 7. She will be joined by leaders from across the department who will provide a full briefing on the HHS budget after Sebelius delivers remarks.
The briefing will be webcast at www.hhs.gov. All budget-related materials, including the FY 2010 HHS Budget in Brief, will be available online at or shortly after 1 p.m. ET.
The Senate approved Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services today.
Several AHCJ members and staff visited Sebelius in Topeka on April 21, 2008, as part of AHCJ's Midwest Health Journalism Program Fellowships.
Some previous coverage of Sebelius’ nomination and other issues: