Tag Archives: transparency

Newspaper’s suit over food stamp data headed to Supreme Court

Irene M. Wielawski

About Irene M. Wielawski

Irene M. Wielawski (@wielawski), an independent journalist based in New York, is a founder and former board member of AHCJ and serves on the organization’s Right to Know Committee.

Photo: Christopher Reilly via Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case brought eight years ago by a South Dakota newspaper asserting the public’s right to know how much taxpayer money goes to grocers and other retailers who participate in the federal food stamp program.

The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls won at the federal appellate court level last year, but a new challenge asserting the confidentiality of business records has pushed the case to the nation’s highest court. Continue reading

Series explores how pharmacy contracts obscure drug pricing details from consumers

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.

When covering prescription drug pricing, one problem that journalists face is understanding the almost-labyrinthine complexity of the drug supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer.

For one of its first investigations, the young publication Tarbell set out to explain why drug prices are so high. In doing so, Tarbell Editor Randy Barrett describes in great detail the complex world of pharmacy pricing. Continue reading

Verma defends cuts to navigators and halting risk adjustment payments

Virgil Dickson

About Virgil Dickson

Virgil Dickson reports for Modern Healthcare from Washington, D.C., on the federal regulatory agencies. Before joining Modern Healthcare in 2013, he was the Washington-based correspondent for PRWeek and an editor/reporter for FDA News.

Photo: Jeff Porter/AHCJSeema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, spoke at a briefing on public health emergencies at the CDC in December.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was on defense on Thursday during a meeting with reporters who pushed her to explain a series of controversial decisions made by her agency in recent weeks.

The agency has faced accusations of sabotage by health advocates after the agency’s decisions to end risk payments to insurance companies offering plans on the individual market and to dramatically cut funding for navigators who help consumers sign up for coverage.  Continue reading

HHS to hire strategist to work with local reporters

Sabriya Rice

About Sabriya Rice

Sabriya Rice (@sabriyarice) is the business of health care reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She’s an AHCJ board member and vice chair of the association’s Right to Know committee.

Judy Stecker

The new assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to improve the agency’s outreach to regional reporters and plans to hire a liaison devoted to working with journalists outside the Beltway.

Judy Stecker, appointed to the role in April, mentioned the new emphasis on reaching regional reporters in a phone call last week with the chairs of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee. Continue reading

AHCJ releases audio of CMS announcement about new Scorecard

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.

Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced a “Scorecard” intended to increase public transparency about the performance of the agency’s programs.

The site uses data that was voluntarily submitted by states on “selected health and program indicators.” An introduction to the site says it offers information about these questions: Continue reading

Series on pharmacy benefit managers makes complicated topic easier to understand

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.

Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

One of the most complicated topics to cover in health care today is the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Employers and health plans hire these middlemen to manage their prescription benefit programs for workers and health plan members.

Not only do PBMs contract with health plans, but some large health plans, notably UnitedHealthcare which owns Optum, have their own PBMs. Late last year, CVS Health, one of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains and owns Caremark, a PBM, said it would buy Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers. That deal is pending regulatory review, as Bruce Japsen reported for Forbes early this month. Continue reading