Health Journalism 2019: Program

Panels and workshops were created from more than 200 suggestions made by AHCJ members, conference sponsors, outside organizations and nonmember journalists.

Sessions are often a merger of several ideas and are assigned to journalist organizers who then staff their panels with experts suggested by the local journalist planning committee, national planning committee, conference sponsors, fellow journalists and through their own coverage experience or research.

Organizers are asked to take into account national reputation, local expertise and regional flavor, ethnic and gender diversity and communication skills. Our hope is that each conference offers attendees new sources for their stories.

Click the titles of sessions having red arrows to read their descriptions.

Thursday, May 2

8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Field trips to area research and clinical sites.


9-11 a.m.

Begin mastering medical studies

Perhaps you've covered a single study for a quick daily news piece, but it's time to take your skills further. We'll review the basics of reading, interpreting and scrutinizing medical studies – study types, common stats, risk types, pitfalls to avoid – but then we'll dig a bit deeper without letting you feel like you're falling down the rabbit hole of medical research. From sussing out the clinical relevance of study to tackling policy research to figuring out how to turn an obscure stat into a meaningful finding for your readers, this two-hour hands-on workshop will give you the knowledge, skills, and practice you need to more confidently, accurately and responsibly report on scientific studies. #AHCJmedicalstudies
  • Ishani Ganguli, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital Division of General Internal Medicine

  • Regina Nuzzo, Ph.D., freelance journalist; professor of science, technology and mathematics, Gallaudet University

  • Moderator: Tara Haelle, AHCJ topic leader/medical studies; independent health journalist

Key 11-12

Right-to-know: How to get your hands on public records

The Freedom of Information Act and other laws protect the public’s right to see the documents that inform, underlie and reveal government actions. Yet obtaining such records can often be a time-consuming and frustrating. This year, the annual workshop sponsored by AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee will show how to surmount the obstacles and teach the best strategies for getting the documents you need – and are entitled to have. #AHCJrecords
  • David  Cuillier, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Arizona School of Journalism

  • Charles N. Davis, Ph.D., dean, Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia

  • Sydney Lupkin, data correspondent, Kaiser Health News

  • Adam A. Marshall, Knight litigation attorney, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

  • Moderator: Felice Freyer, health care reporter, The Boston Globe

Key 3-4

Writing workshop: Crafting stories readers will remember

Take your work to the next level with the hard-won lessons of a Pulitzer Prize-winning medical reporter. This session will be a candid, intimate look at finding the great stories, sharpening their angles and doing the reporting that make them come to life. We'll also dive into the guts of writing, from leads and structure to clarity and momentum. Just as important, we'll talk about the stories that are haunting you, and how to bring them home. #AHCJwriting
  • Diana K. Sugg, enterprise editor, The Baltimore Sun

Key 9-10

11:15 a.m.-
12:30 p.m.

Mini-short course on genetics

Whether you’re new to the topic or fluent in genetics, this session will hone your skills for reporting on all things DNA. Speakers will cover the basics of gene therapy and gene editing with CRISPR and other tools; reproductive medicine topics such as carrier testing, embryo screening and fetal tests during pregnancy; consumer DNA tests, forensics, accuracy and privacy concerns, and cancer genetics – liquid biopsies, gene-tailored treatments and testing for disease predisposition. #AHCJgenes
  • Leslie Biesecker, M.D., chief, Medical Genomics and Metabolic Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health

  • David Valle, M.D., director, Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Marilynn Marchione, chief medical writer, The Associated Press

Key 11-12

Freelance pitch doctor: Real pitches, real time feedback

Editors will discuss real pitches to their publications. We encourage you to submit a trial pitch for feedback. If you are a freelancer interested in writing for one of these magazines, this is a unique opportunity to give your pitch a trial run.
This is not just a theoretical exercise – ask Linda Marsa. Last year she submitted a pitch for feedback to Undark. Her name was not disclosed, but after realizing her pitch had been chosen for analysis by Tom Zeller, Linda followed up that day and later received an assignment.
All pitches should be directed specifically to each magazine, and contain a headline. You can remain anonymous or include your name. Please upload pitches to this link. The editors will select which pitches to discuss.
As this is an open forum with real pitches, we ask that all writers honor the code of not stealing someone else’s idea. The deadline for pitch submission is April 5. #AHCJpitchdoc
  • Anna Maltby, deputy editor, Real Simple Magazine

  • Tom Zeller Jr., editor in chief, Undark magazine

  • Moderator: Laura Beil, independent journalist

Key 3-4

Using local-level data to uncover and illuminate community health

This workshop-style session will generate health story ideas and provide research sources and techniques to support and amplify those leads. Our panelists are also ready to work with attendees on in-progress articles. Want to know what’s killing infants and kids in your area – and how many are dying? Or how about what the local contributors are to all those “deaths of despair” from alcohol, drugs and suicide? If you’ve got a data problem that’s vexing you now, we’ll come armed with suggestions. Just let Jayne know at #AHCJdata
  • George Hobor, Ph.D., program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

  • Joyal Mulheron, founder and executive director, Evermore

  • Brie Zeltner, health reporter, Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • Moderator: Jayne O'Donnell, health reporter, USA Today

Key 9-10

12:30-1:45 p.m.

Lunch on your own


1:45- 3 p.m.

From measles to obesity: Key health trends affecting children and adolescents

There is a growing burden in the United States of poor health among children and adolescents. Through commentary and interactive data visualizations, an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation faculty member will discuss diseases and injuries behind this trend, as well as the commensurate – and surprising – lower rates of death. The presentation also will cover state-level trends of mental and substance use disorders, suicide, gun violence, as well as obesity. #AHCJburden
  • Ali Mokdad, Ph.D., professor of global health, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Key 9-10

The genetics of mental illness

As it is in every other area of health, genetics is playing an increased role in understanding the vulnerability of individuals to psychiatric illness. On our panel, experts will talk about the genetics of schizophrenia, the link between genes and substance abuse, and new research on how the placenta influences the effects of the intrauterine environment on the prenatal brain. #AHCJmentalhealthgenes
  • Seth Ament, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Brion Maher, Ph.D., professor of mental health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Daniel Weinberger, M.D., director and CEO, Lieber Institute for Brain Development; professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, Neuroscience and The Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Aaron Levin, freelance science and medical journalist

Key 11-12

Health podcasting: How to turn your in-depth health story into an audio narrative or series

Admit it: You’ve long wanted to start a podcast. Some stories are too rich and meandering to fit into one neat narrative on the page. Other times, a topic seems so compelling it could easily sustain a season of connected stories or interviews. This session will explore what it takes to create a health-themed podcast, including finding a viable idea, going from print to audio, pitching to a podcast network, and the economics of going out on your own. #AHCJpodcast
  • Laura Beil, independent journalist, producer of Dr. Death podcast

  • Kerry Donahue, director of training, PRX

  • Pagan Kennedy, independent journalist and podcast producer

  • Dan Weissman, host and executive producer, An Arm and a Leg podcast

  • Moderator: Karen Brown, reporter, New England Public Radio and Radiotopia

Podcasting Tip Sheet (350K .pdf)

Key 3-4

3:15-4:15 p.m.

Do-it-yourself DNA testing: A new epidemic of worried well

More than 7 million Americans have taken direct-to-consumer DNA tests to learn more about their family's ancestry and whether they have the gene for baldness. Some have found long-lost relatives or learned about family secrets. A few who haven't even submitted to testing have been exposed as criminals, and more than half the European descendants in the United States can be identified from their DNA, according to estimates, even though the data are de-identified. Journalism on the topic has addressed issues of surprises, privacy and accuracy. This panel will dig in even deeper and offer suggestions for how to cover these at-home tests. #AHCJdiyDNA
  • Natalie Beck, senior genetic counselor, Johns Hopkins Institute of Genetic Medicine

  • Matthew Ferber, Ph.D., director, Mayo Clinic Clinical Genome Sequencing Laboratory, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

  • Tina Saey, science writer, Molecular Biology, Science News

  • Moderator: Karen Weintraub, freelance health/science journalist

Key 9-10

Journalism's role in the age of social media misinformation

Jonathan Swift famously wrote in 1710: “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” And in 2019, misinformation flies even faster, with social media platforms plagued with falsehoods about vaccinations, diet, diseases and more. Hear from an expert in communication and behavior plus a veteran health journalist on sorting out how journalists can keep their professional role in an ever-changing landscape. #AHCJsocial
  • Brian G. Southwell, Ph.D., program director, Science in the Public Sphere, RTI International

  • Tara Haelle, AHCJ topic leader/medical studies; independent health journalist

Key 3-4

4:30-5:15 p.m.

First-time attendee welcome

Key 11-12

5:30-6:50 p.m.

Official conference welcome and kickoff session

  • Spotlight speaker: Otis Brawley, M.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University

Holiday 1-2-3

7 p.m.

Welcome to Baltimore reception


Friday, May 3

The Exhibit Hall will be open all day for networking and finding new resources.

7-8:30 a.m.

Breakfast available


8 a.m.-noon 

Head Shot Station
We are excited to offer this year’s conference attendees an opportunity to have a professional head shot taken for their personal or business use. We have arranged with a local photography studio to set up a mini-photo studio in the exhibit hall on Friday morning of the conference. Check with the AHCJ registration desk for details.

Exhibit Hall

9-10:20 a.m.

Transplantation: The next frontier

What if doctors could use drones to transport organs for donation? Or give you a heart transplant from an animal? It sounds like science fiction, but efforts like this are being actively investigated and could become reality within the next several years. Surgeons from Baltimore’s two powerhouse transplant centers will share their efforts to push the field of transplantation to the next level, and discuss the potential for transferring additional body parts. #AHCJtransplant
  • Jinny Suk Ha, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, M.D., professor of surgery; director, Program in Cardiac Xenotransplantation, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Richard J. Redett, M.D., clinical director, Genitourinary Transplant Program; director, Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Joseph R. Scalea, M.D. , assistant professor of surgery; director, Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplantation, University of Maryland Transplant Center

  • Moderator: Karen Blum, freelance medical/science writer

Holiday 2-3

Freelancer ethics: How to avoid conflicts and still make a living

Not every freelancer earns her/his entire salary through objective journalism. Many prioritize journalistic assignments and take on a hodgepodge of other writing and editing to fill the gaps. What types of non-journalistic assignments constitute a conflict of interest? What do you have to report on a COI disclosure form? And how do editors address potential conflicts? Must independent journalists avoid non-journalistic writing all together? Is it enough to simply not use your name on non-journalistic writing? Can editing pose a conflict of interest, too? Is any conflict at all a deal breaker for all assignments with the publication or only assignments on a particular topic? Is the line between what work a journalist can and cannot do blurrier today than it once was? This panel will examine and answer some of these questions. #AHCJethics
  • Jenny Chen, independent science journalist and multimedia producer

  • Eva Emerson, editor-in-chief, Knowable Magazine

  • Brendan Maher, features editor biology, Nature News

  • Kendall Powell, independent journalist

  • Moderator: Sonya Collins, independent journalist

Key 11-12

Seeking a better life for people with Alzheimer's disease

This panel will introduce journalists to a new way of looking at Alzheimer’s – a devastating, incurable illness for sure, but also one that people live with for many years. Can those years have meaning and purpose despite the losses? A growing movement seeks to focus not just on what Alzheimer’s patients have lost, but what they still can do, and how they and their caregivers can build a life worth living. #AHCJAlz
  • Halima  Amjad, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Brent P. Forester, M.D., M.Sc., chief, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, McLean Hospital; assistant professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

  • Laura N. Gitlin, Ph.D., distinguished university professor and dean, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University

  • Moderator: Felice Freyer, health care reporter, The Boston Globe

Key 1-2

Of price spikes and shortages: New initiatives to increase patient access to generic and biosimilar drugs

Generic and biosimilar drugs were considered substitutes for expensive branded drugs to bring health costs down. But high costs and shortages continue. Consumers and health care systems can find it difficult to access essential medicines such as insulin or generic drugs. This session will explain structural reasons why these drugs cost so much, are in short supply, and can be of suspect quality. The speakers will describe innovations they are working on to ensure better access to necessary medications. #AHCJgenerics
  • Sarah Dash M.P.H., director, Alliance for Healthcare Policy

  • Cynthia Rice, senior vice president, advocacy and policy, JDRF

  • Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., vice dean for public health practice and community engagement, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Martin Van Trieste, president and CEO, Civica Rx

  • Moderator: Wendy Wolfson, independent journalist

Key 3-4

The intersection of gun violence and public health

From mass shootings, inner city violence and suicides, gun violence is a public health crisis that takes the lives of nearly 38,000 people each year. We hear from doctors who see the collateral damage of gun violence up close, including a physician who went into medicine after being shot as a teenager, and explore successful prevention strategies. #AHCJgunviolence
  • Jacques Mather, M.D., M.P.H., director, Center for Injury Prevention and Policy, R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center; assistant professor of surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Joseph V. Sakran, M.D., M.P.A., M.P.H., director, Emergency General Surgery; assistant professor of surgery, Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • Jon S. Vernick, professor and associate chair, Department of Health Policy Management; co-director, Johns Hopkins Center for Law and the Public's Health; associate director, Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Moderator: Andrea K. McDaniels, editorial writer, The Baltimore Sun

Key 9-10


Climate change and its impact on public health

The science is clear. The planet’s climate is changing with major implications for public health. Droughts and dangerous heat waves are exacerbating respiratory illnesses and degrading food and water supplies. More frequent and extreme storms are destroying health infrastructure in communities. The warming climate is enabling the expansion of insect-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, Zika and West Nile virus. Learn about these and other health effects, as well as story angles for covering climate change and public health. #AHCJclimate
  • John Balbus, M.D., senior adviser for public health, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences; director, NIEHS-WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences

  • Aaron Bernstein, M.D., M.P.H., co-director, Center for Climate, Health and Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; pediatric hospitalist, Boston Children's Hospital

  • Mark A. Mitchell, M.D., associate professor, Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Health Equity, Health and Climate Solutions, Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University

  • Jane Palmer, science writer, radio journalist

  • Moderator: Bara L. Vaida, topic leader/infectious diseases; independent health journalist

Holiday 2-3

The lasting effects of childhood exposure to violence

Conventional wisdoms says that exposure to violence in childhood isn't healthy, but what does the science say? The best science comes from studies of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. This panel will look at what violence actually is – because it can be interpersonal, self-inflicted, or witnessed – and how exposures to it in childhood affect health outcomes. Learn how studies of ACEs show that the effects of these exposures can even transcend generations. Panelists will also delve into some examples of ACEs beyond those defined in the original study and discuss potential strategies for prevention. #AHCJviolence
  • Wendy G. Lane, M.D., M.P.H., director, Preventive Medicine Residency Program; clinical associate professor, Epidemiology and Public Health, Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Philip J. Leaf, Ph.D., executive director, East Baltimore Community Trauma Response; senior associate director, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute; co-director, Center for Adolescent Health Director, Center for the Prevention of Violence, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Félice Lê-Scherban, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University

  • Moderator: Emily J. Willingham, Ph.D., AHCJ topic leader/social determinants; freelance journalist and editor

Key 11-12

The retail-ing of health care

Big retailers are transforming their stores to include more health care services, partnering with and even buying health insurers via partnerships that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. Our panel of executives from the country’s biggest retailers, outpatient providers and health insurers discuss company strategies, new health care services and how they fit in with health care delivery now and into the future. #AHCJretailinghealth
  • Thomas M. Moriarty, executive vice president, chief policy and external affairs officer, and general counsel, CVS Health

  • Austin Pittman, executive vice president, Enterprise Healthcare Value, UnitedHealth Group; CEO, OptumCare

  • William Shrank, M.D., chief medical officer, Humana

  • Moderator: Bruce Japsen, health care columnist/senior contributor, Forbes

Key 1-2

Are new brain tumor treatments on the horizon?

Most progress to date for the treatment of adult brain tumors has been described as incremental. Over the past decade, a number of prominent figures including Ted Kennedy, Beau Biden, John McCain and John Mendelsohn have been diagnosed with glioblastoma, and despite access to the best available care, they still died from their tumors. Our session will discuss the state of care for patients with brain tumors, barriers to success, and new therapeutic approaches. #AHCJbraintumor
  • Chetan Bettegowda, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Meningioma Center; Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

  • Michael Lim, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Radiation Oncology Otolaryngology, and Institute of NanoBiotechnology; Director, Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program; Director, Metastatic Brain Tumor Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Nader Sanai, M.D., Najafi family professor of neurological surgery; director, Division of Neurosurgical Oncology; director, Ivy Brain Tumor Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute

  • Moderator: Eric T. Rosenthal, independent journalist; editor-at-large, Onco'Zine; special correspondent, MedPage Today

Key 3-4

HIV and vulnerable populations

Learn about HIV from a coach-based approach to treatment. See what the Baltimore City Health Department has done to destigmatize living with HIV and reach out to diverse populations. Understand the history of medical mistrust and the collection of data from those populations. #AHCJHIV
  • Renata Arrington Sanders, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.M., associate professor Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

  • Cory Bradley, M.S.W., M.P.H., doctoral candidate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Adena Greenbaum, M.D., M.P.H., assistant commissioner for clinical services and HIV/STD prevention, Baltimore City Health Department

  • Moderator: Dominique Maria Bonessi, reporter, WAMU-885

Key 9-10

Noon-1:30 p.m.

Lunch on your own


1:40-3:50 p.m.

Freelance PitchFest

Editors from some of the top magazines, newspapers and websites are coming to Baltimore to meet you! Bring your best ideas to the Freelance PitchFest. This session has been created to give you an opportunity to sit down and discuss your ideas one-on-one with editors from selected publications. Be sure to read the PitchFest etiquette rules. #AHCJpitchfest
  • Betsy Agnvall, editor, Staying Sharp, AARP

  • Paul Barr, features editor, Modern Healthcare

  • Valarie Basheda, director of news and special reports, WebMD

  • Jonathan Block, editor-in chief, MedShadow

  • Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, senior editor, Everyday Health

  • Carol Eisenberg, health and policy editor, The Washington Post

  • Eva Emerson, editor-in-chief, Knowable Magazine from Annual Reviews:   

  • Deborah Flapan, news director, Medscape

  • Denise Fulton, executive editor, MDedge News

  • Lottie Joiner, editor-in-chief, The Crisis

  • Tod Jones, managing editor, The Connection

  • Roxanne Khamsi, chief news editor, Nature Medicine

  • Brendan Maher, features editor, Nature

  • Kevin McCarthy, editor-in-chief, Rally Health

  • Scott Phillips, editor-in-chief, Rural Health Quarterly

  • Dina Rasor, managing editor, Tarbell

  • Rebecca Shannonhouse, editor-in-chief, Bottom Line Health

  • Cori Vanchieri, features editor, Science News

  • Peter Wehrwein, editor, Managed Care magazine

  • Kytia Weir, national editor, Kaiser Health News

  • Kendall Wenaas, associate health editor, Family Circle

  • Carmel Wroth, health editor, National Public Radio

  • Kate Yandell, digital editor, Cancer Today

  • Coordinator: Jeanne Erdmann, independent journalist

Holiday 4-5

1:40-3 p.m.

Efforts to improve childhood vaccinations

With the recent wave of measles outbreaks in different parts of the country, vaccines – along with the pushback from parents opposed to mandatory immunizations – are back in the headlines. Learn from a distinguished panel of leading experts – all of whom are dedicated to improve childhood immunization rates – about the history of the anti-vaccine movement, how doctors deal with “vaccine hesitant” parents and what kind of legislation is being considered by various states. What kind of messages work, and what doesn’t seem to improve vaccination rates? Why are legislators in some states introducing bills that would make it easier for parents avoid vaccinating their kids? How can we, as journalists, balance science, beliefs and policy? #AHCJvaccines
  • Robert M. Jacobson, M.D., medical director, Population Health Science Program, Mayo Clinic's Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery

  • Paul A. Offit, M.D., director, Vaccine Education Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

  • Craig A. Shapiro, M.D., physician, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Nemours Children's Health System

  • Moderator: Victoria Colliver, health reporter, Politico/Politico Pro

Holiday 2-3 

Global health in America: Local health programs modeled on African and Asian initiatives

Global health is not a one-way street. Most people think it only means experts from developed countries helping people in developing countries. In fact, world-changing ideas often begin overseas and are then adopted in the United States. For example, the origin of community health workers in U.S. inner cities begins in 1930s China. Learn from Seattle- and Baltimore-based experts how globally sourced initiatives like microfinance may be improving health in your community. #AHCJglobalhealth
  • Chidinma A. Ibe, Ph.D., associate director of stakeholder engagement, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity; assistant professor of general internal medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • Larissa Jennings Mayo-Wilson, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor, Social and Behavioral Interventions Program, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Jonathan Sugarman, M.D., M.P.H., CEO, Global to Local

  • Moderator: Brian W. Simpson, M.P.H., M.A., editor-in-chief, Global Health NOW; content and editorial director, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Key 11-12

Can health disparities for minority women be changed?

Health disparities in African American women remain a persistent problem even after years of research and numerous programs created to close the health gap. The rate of infant mortality in black women, at all income levels, is much higher than the rate for white women.  Is there a way to move the needle and close the disparities gap for African American women in the U.S.? What are the meaningful solutions being pursued by the health community and nonprofits? #AHCJhealthdisparities
  • Darrell J. Gaskin, Ph.D., William C. and Nancy F. Richardson professor in health policy; director, Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins University; professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

  • Linda Goler Blount, M.P.H., president and CEO, Black Women's Health Imperative

  • Tanjala S. Purnell, Ph.D. M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery, epidemiology, and health hehavior and society; associate director for education and training, Center for Health Equity Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine and Public Health

  • Moderator: Marlene K. Harris-Taylor, reporter/producer WVIZ/PBS and WCPN/NPR Cleveland affiliate

Key 1-2

Health reform in the states post-mandate

The individual mandate is gone. New non-ACA compliant health insurance options are on the market. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering states unprecedented flexibility – in the individual market, the small group market, and Medicaid.  What do reporters need to understand about options their state governors, regulators and legislators may choose? And what does it mean for coverage, cost, and access to quality health care? #AHCJreform
  • Drew Altman, president and CEO, Kaiser Family Foundation

  • Jessica Altman, Pennsylvania insurance commissioner; chair, National Association of Insurance Commissioners Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee

  • Doug Ommen, commissioner, Iowa Insurance Division

  • Moderator: Joanne Kenen, AHCJ topic leader/health reform; executive editor, health care, Politico

Key 3-4

Is telemedicine finally catching up to the hype?

Behind the hype, there are still plenty of hurdles facing telemedicine. But advocates are more hopeful now, following Medicare's recent decision to pay for more telemedicine services. This panel will explore the implications of that and other recent policy changes, and unpack common misunderstandings about telemedicine, i.e., it's only for rural health; it's "second-class care" for poor patients; it's depersonalized. We'll examine real-world case studies: using telemedicine to prescribe buprenorphine to rural patients struggling with opioid addiction, or to monitor the health of homebound patients with diabetes, COPD and congestive heart failure. #AHCJtelemed
  • Aaron D. Greenblatt, M.D., medical director, University of Maryland Drug Treatment Center; assistant professor of family and community medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine

  • Mei W. Kwong, J.D., executive director, Center for Connected Health Policy, The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center

  • Thomas E. Skorup, M.B.A., F.A.C.H.E., vice president, Applied Solutions, ECRI Institute

  • Moderator: Carrie Feibel, senior editor, NPR

Key 9-10

3-4 p.m.

Exhibit crawl/Snack break


4:15-5:30 p.m.

How diversifying clinical trial recruitment could speed treatments and cures

Clinical trial enrollments don't reflect the nation's racial and gender make-up. Diversity advocates are pushing physicians to spend more time discussing trial options with their patients; enlisting religious and other community organizations to help demystify trial enrollment; training patient navigators to help narrow the gap. This is an effort to ensure that treatments are better tailored to address the medical needs of patients whose race and gender might sometimes shape the specific nature of their illnesses #AHCJclinicaltrialdiversity
  • Margarita Echeverri, Ph.D., associate director, community engagement and outreach resource, Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Centers; educational coordinator, Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education, Xavier University Pharmacy College

  • Michelle Martin, Ph.D., founding director, Center for Innovation in Health Equity Research. University of Tennessee Health Science Center

  • Donald W. Northfelt, M.D., site director, Mayo Clinic Office of Health Disparities Research; professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine; consultant, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology

  • Beverly Tolliver Foringer, enior clinical research associate, Bayer

  • Moderator: Katti Gray, independent journalist

Holiday 2-3

What's new with Medicaid

Medicaid is the country’s largest health insurance program, covering more than 70 million Americans. State Medicaid programs decide who they cover, what they cover and how they cover it – pending federal approval – and these differences have become even more stark under the Trump administration. Since last year, the federal government has allowed several states to impose work requirements as a condition of eligibility, with Arkansas leading the way. Meanwhile, expansions continue, including one in Virginia. The commonwealth broadened its eligibility criteria in January – and expects to implement work requirements at a later date. #AHCJMedicaid
  • Benjamin Hardy, reporter, Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

  • Jennifer Lee, M.D., Virginia Medicaid director

  • Judy Solomon, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

  • Moderator: Emily Bazar, California news editor, Kaiser Health News/California Healthline

Key 11-12

Exposomics: How early environmental exposures affect life health, disease and development

Some adult diseases have been linked to babies' first experiences in life, some even before birth. This panel will explore how experiences and exposures early on can influence health years to decades later. We'll touch on the possible mechanisms by which heavy metals, allergens and other exposures as infants and toddlers may lead to asthma, diabetes and other ailments. You'll also get some pointers on spotting pitfalls when covering epigenetics and early life influences on adult disease. #AHCJexposomics
  • Deborah A. Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of environmental medicine, pediatrics and public health sciences, University of Rochester School of Medicine

  • Nadia N. Hansel, M.D., M.P.H., interim director, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview; Associate Dean of Research, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

  • Xiaobin Wang, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., director, Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Moderator: Tina H. Saey, senior writer, molecular biology for Science News magazine.

Key 1-2

Hope vs. hype: Reporting on artificial intelligence

There’s been plenty hype around what machine learning will do in health care. But where are we now and what hurdles do we still have to overcome to realize the promise of AI? What questions should journalists be asking to get through the hype and give proper scrutiny about the accuracy and ethics in AI? Learn more about this topic with a distinguished panel of experts who will describe some of the latest applications of artificial intelligence and offer a primer on what reporters should be asking next when it comes to machine learning. #AHCJmachine
  • Robert Bowser, Ph.D., chairman of neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute

  • Elliot K. Fishman, M.D., director, Diagnostic Imaging and Body CT, Johns Hopkins

  • Doug B. Fridsma, Ph.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.M.I., president and CEO, American Medical Informatics Association
  • Moderator: Tina Reed, executive editor, FierceHealthcare

Key 3-4

Beyond addiction: Medical consequences of opioid misuse

Stories about the opioid epidemic often focus on the tragedy of an overdose. This panel will examine the wide range of infections and injuries that drug users struggle with as well. HIV and hepatitis C may complicate a patient’s recovery plan. Burns, broken bones and abscesses go untreated when patients flee an emergency room. Researchers are just beginning to assess the impact of multiple overdoses. And doctors are redefining “futile treatment” for drug users who need repeat procedures. #AHCJODinjury
  • Anika Alvanzo, M.D., M.S., associate medical director, Addiction Treatment Services and Center for Addiction and Pregnancy, Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • Joshua Barocas, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

  • Sarah Hull, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine (cardiology), Yale University School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Martha Bebinger, reporter, WBUR

Key 9-10

5:40-6:30 p.m.

Membership meeting

Key 11-12