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Upcoming events

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Past events

Drug Pricing: Covering the Controversy


  • Roy Guharoy, Pharm.D. vice president and chief pharmacy officer for the Resource Group at Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the United States. 

  • Craig Garthwaite, assistant professor, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Garthwaite's research examines the effects of government policies and social phenomena with a focus on the health sector.

Moderator: Duncan Moore, independent journalist

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 23

Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Refreshments at 6:30, program at 7 p.m.)

LocationColumbia College, 600 S. Michigan, Conference Room 401 (this building is a new location, not where we’ve previously met) Thanks to Columbia College for providing the venue for this event.

Diagnosis Errors in Health Care

Join the Chicago chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists on Oct. 13 for a panel discussion of the recently released Institute of Medicine report “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.” The committee writing the report concluded that "most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences."  

Date: Oct. 13, 2015

Time: 6:30-8:15 p.m. (Refreshments at 6:30, program at 7 p.m.)

Location: Columbia College, Journalism Department, 33 East Congress, corner of Wabash and Congress, under the L tracks, Room 219


  • Paul L. Epner, M.B.A., M.Ed., executive vice president, co-founder & director, Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, chair, Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference

  • Karen Cosby, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., senior attending, Department of Emergency Medicine, Cook County Hospital (Stroger) and Associate Professor, Rush University Medical School

  • David M. Liebovitz, M.D., F.A.C.P., chief medical information executive, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare Central Region

The outlook for health insurance subsidies

With the King v. Burwell Supreme Court decision expected in June, how would states and stakeholders handle the loss of health insurance subsidies if the plaintiffs prevail? In question is the legality of providing federal subsidies to people in Illinois and other states using the federal marketplace. The ruling would not affect the availability of subsidies in states using state marketplaces.

Experts at this briefing explained how subsidies work, who gets them and how they are calculated. They addressed the implications for consumers, hospitals and health systems if those subsidies disappear, and how states might respond.  


  • Stephani Becker, senior policy specialist at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

  • Dan Yunker, p‚Ä™resident and CEO of Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council and CEO at Land of Lincoln Health, a nonprofit health insurer sponsored by MCHC

  • Bruce Japsen, health care writer/columnist for Forbes

  • Moderator: Marilyn Werber Serafini, vice president for policy, Alliance for Health Reform, and former health care journalist

Vision and reality in electronic health records

A panel of experts provided a refresher on health information technology in Illinois and the nation, as well as an orientation for anyone planning to cover HIMSS 15 taking place in Chicago in April. The new AMA headquarters was the venue for this event.


  • Dr. Diane Bradley, senior vice president, chief quality and outcomes officer, Allscripts

  • Dr. Arnold “Ned” Wagner Jr., chief medical information officer, NorthShore University HealthSystem

  • Eric Yablonka, vice president and chief information officer, University of Chicago Medicine

  • Moderator: Neil Versel, independent journalist

Discussion Panel: The Business of Freelancing

The AHCJ Chicago chapter held a discussion Nov. 11 about freelancing for both staff writers and independents. The panelists shared humorous experiences and wisdom about setting up and maintaining a healthy freelance business at a recent AHCJ Chicago chapter event.

Presenters included:

  • Jenni Prokopy, independent writer, social media strategist, motivational speaker, and consultant

  • Cindy Kuzma, freelance health and fitness writer, and running coach

  • Debbie Conatser, CPA and financial advisor at Computer Accounting

  • Bridget Kuehn, freelance writer and strategist (moderator)

Thanks to Columbia College for the venue and Bridget Kuehn for organizing.

Health care industry reacting to overtesting, overtreatment

The American health care system wastes an estimated $750 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine. At a recent AHCJ chapter event in Chicago, four panelists discussed one source of that waste: unnecessary tests and procedures.

Moderated and organized by AHCJ member Kevin B. O’Reilly, senior editor of CAP Today, the panel looked at the issue through the lenses of doctors, journalists, health system executives and academics.


    • Dr. Holly J. Humphrey is the dean for medical education at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and is vice chair ABIM Foundation's board of trustees.
    • Dr. Joel Shalowitz is the director of health industry management at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and also professor of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine.
    • Mark Newton is CEO of Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. Swedish has received four consecutive "A" grades on patient safety from the Leapfrog Group, and is taking part in accountable care activities in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
    • Julie Deardorff is an award-winning health, medicine and fitness reporter for the Chicago Tribune.
    • Kevin B. O'Reilly (moderator), senior editor, CAP TODAY, published the College of American Pathologists, and member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. 

Experts suggest story ideas based on ACA implementation

Photo: Carla K. Johnson
Photo: Carla K. Johnson
Dan Lustig, C. Scott Litch and Dr. John Rutkausas spoke about the Affordable Care Act.

Plenty of good story ideas await journalists willing to explore the nooks and crannies of the nation’s health care law. The Chicago chapter of AHCJ delved into some of these story ideas at a recent meeting titled “Fresh Stories Ahead for the Affordable Care Act.”

For instance, dental coverage for children is an essential health benefit under the law. Consumers in Illinois are able to buy pediatric dental coverage as a stand-alone plan, bundled with a medical plan or “embedded” into a medical plan. 

Panelist Dr. John R. Rutkausas, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, predicts consumers will be disappointed if they buy an embedded plan with a high deductible. It may be a rude surprise to learn they may have to pay all their children’s dental care out of pocket because they haven’t yet met their deductible.

Read more ...

Chicago members learn about changing end-of-life conversations

Julie Goldstein, M.D., Martha Twaddle, M.D., Mary Mulcahy, M.D., and Randi Belisomo (left to right) discussed end-of-life care at an AHCJ Chicago chapter event on June 11.

A series of chats between two women on side-by-side elliptical trainers at a health club led to the founding of a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about end-of-life care.

On one machine was Randi Belisomo, a WGN reporter in Chicago and now a member of AHCJ. Beside her was Northwestern University oncologist Mary Mulcahy, M.D., who had treated Belisomo’s husband, political reporter Carlos Hernandez Gomez, as he died of colon cancer at age 36.

Belisomo and Mulcahy told the Chicago chapter of AHCJ how they co-founded Life Matters Media to spread the word about the importance of planning ahead to make one’s wishes known about medical care and quality of life before one’s death.

“We like to take the stance there’s no right or wrong in end-of-life decision making,” Belisomo said. “There’s only decision making.”

Read more about this event.

Panelists make predictions for health reform implementation

From left, panelists Bruce Japsen and Cristal Thomas, moderator Ed Howard and panelists Sabrina Corlette and David DiLoreto.

From left, panelists Bruce Japsen and Cristal Thomas, moderator Ed Howard and panelists Sabrina Corlette and David DiLoreto. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

The Dec. 12 Chicago AHCJ chapter event was co-sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Columbia College Journalism Department provided the site. Ed Howard, executive vice president of the Alliance for Health Reform, moderated the discussion.

Illinois Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas, one of four panelists, said the governor’s office remains optimistic that the legislature will pass enabling legislation on a state-based insurance exchange and another bill on Medicaid expansion, possibly as soon as January.

In the first of a new series of briefings for health care journalists, a panel of experts offered updates and analysis about implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the states.

Obama’s home state plans to partner with the federal government to run an exchange in the first year, and Gov. Pat Quinn wants a state-based exchange by the second year, for coverage beginning in 2015.

Sabrina Corlette, research professor and project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, gave a rundown of where other states stand. Since most states will have the largest small group plan as their benchmark for essential health benefits, “the coverage will look a lot like what’s being marketed and sold in the small group market today,” Corlette said.

Panelist and AHCJ member Bruce Japsen predicted that more Republican-led states eventually will get more involved in running insurance exchanges and expanding Medicaid. He pointed out that the insurance industry prefers state regulation over federal regulation and will lobby in states for that. Hospitals and physicians will press their state legislators to expand Medicaid coverage, Japsen said.

David DiLoreto, M.D., chief clinical operations and innovation officer of Presence Health, predicted the law will lead to more partnerships between insurers and health systems, but he cautioned that bringing health care costs down will be difficult.

“Ultimately you have to be able to change patient behaviors,” DiLoreto said. “The burden of chronic disease is very significant in the U.S. Until that changes we’re not going to be able to bring prices down.”

Howard Bauchner, M.D., is editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association

Bauchner discussed health reform in light of the elections. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

Chicago-area journalists gathered to hear from JAMA's editor. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

Chicago-area journalists gathered to hear from JAMA’s editor. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

JAMA editor predicts embargoes will be up for discussion

Howard Bauchner, M.D., editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, spoke to about 25 journalists and students at a Nov. 15 AHCJ Chicago chapter event hosted by JAMA at its Chicago office.

“I don’t think we’ve settled the debate in the United States about whether health care is a fundamental right or a fundamental privilege,” Bauchner said in response to a question about doctors’ views on the Affordable Care Act. “And it’s been striking to me that the president has avoided that issue.”

Bauchner added: “That goes to the heart about why physicians are very divided about it.”

Bauchner talked about embargoes, the debate over open access to medical research and the online integration of the 10 medical journals in the JAMA Network.

He said he expects embargoes to be discussed at the May retreat of the JAMA editorial board. He’ll bring the board information on what other journals are doing, he said, and he’ll pose the question, “How does audio and video change any notion that embargoes should exist?” He said he’ll seek opinions from journalists, too.

Bauchner speculated: “We will continue to have embargoes. The exact, precise timing of it is a little less clear to me.”

During his discussion of embargoes, Bauchner wondered whether a certain blogger would get word of his comments.

“Who’s the embargo person who blogs all the time?” he asked.

Several voices in the audience chorused: “IVAN ORANSKY.”

Oransky is an AHCJ board member whose Embargo Watch blog keeps an eye on embargoes and how they affect news coverage.

The Chicago chapter thanks Jann Ingmire of the JAMA Network for her help organizing the event.

Panel Discussion: Social Media for the Working Journalist (Sept. 19, 2012)

There was a little LOL, but also plenty of cyber meat for the nearly 20 journalists, academics and students attending the AHCJ Chicago Chapter’s autumn event on social media at Columbia College on Sept. 19. Former AHCJ President Duncan Moore organized and moderated the panel discussion about the intersection of journalism and social media.

The Chicago Reader’s “Tweeter In Chief” Asher Klein told how the weekly uses social media, in particular Twitter, to promote stories and engage and attract readers.  

“Part of what you’re doing is advertising, getting people to like you and want to read you,” Klein said, an editorial assistant The Reader. He advised journalists using Twitter to engage readers, “to have a conversation,” accomplishing that by linking every story and blog posting.

Christine Cupaiuolo, online manager for
Christine Cupaiuolo, online manager for "Our Bodies, Ourselves" (right) and Asher Klein, editor assistant with The Chicago Reader, spoke about how social media can connect journalists and their audience.

Northwestern University Assistant Professor Ashlee Humphreys, who teaches marketing at the Medill School of Journalism, discussed how social media changes the relationship between journalists and audiences.

Medicare NewsGroup Web Producer Kimber Solana said the online news organization uses social media to “get our brand out there and improve customer (reader) retention. We’re constantly tweeting headlines and links to stories”

Christine Cupaiuolo, online manager for “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” said journalists using social media should find their voice.

“Don’t try to be an expert if you’re not,” she said. “Otherwise, you’re not going to be viewed as genuine.”

Cupaiuolo and other panelists advised journalists to be consistent in their postings and to find backups for vacations and absences.


  • Christine Cupaiuolo is an award-winning writer and editor specializing in politics, culture and gender. She currently covers women’s health and public policy for Our Bodies, Ourselves and is managing editor of the “Our Bodies, Ourselves” book. She is also an editor of Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, an online publication supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Twitter: @cmc2

  • Ashlee Humphreys is an assistant professor in the Integrating Marketing Communications program at the Medill journalism school at Northwestern University. She studies online communities and how consumers interact with companies and other consumers. Her background in marketing and doctorate from the Kellogg School of Management will give us a fresh perspective on development of norms and institutions in social media. @ProfHumphreys

  • Asher Klein is the editorial assistant at the Chicago Reader, where he mans the Twitter and Facebook feeds, with 38,000 followers and 13,000 subscribers respectively. He also uploads the Reader's print articles to the web and sometimes writes and reviews. An occasional freelancer, Asher wrote a profile of Austan Goolbee in July for his University of Chicago alumni magazine. Twitter: @Chicago_Reader

  • Kimber Solana, web producer at The Medicare NewsGroup, implements the organization's social media strategies on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter: @MedicareNewsgrp

What’s next for the states on health reform?

About 25 people gathered to learn more about the Affordable Care Act on May 8, 2012. Panelists speculated on the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act and how the decision might affect states. This was the final event in a series sponsored by AHCJ, the Alliance for Health Reform and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Columbia College Journalism Department provided the site.

Joe Carlson of Modern Healthcare.
Joe Carlson, of Modern Healthcare, and Lynn A. Blewett, of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, were speakers at the May 8 Chicago chapter meeting about implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The speakers were:

Michael Gelder is senior health care policy adviser to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. He advises the governor on national health reform, Medicaid, managed care, long term care reform, global budgeting, electronic medical records and health information exchange. He represents the governor’s office with health care provider associations, advocates and other stakeholders. Gelder was appointed by the governor to serve as chairman of the health reform implementation task force established by executive order on July 29, 2010.

Joe Carlson is a Chicago-based reporter for Modern Healthcare. In March, he was among about 100 journalists with a view of the historic arguments before the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act. He covers legal affairs, including health reform, fraud and compliance, labor and regulatory news. He joined Modern Healthcare in 2008.

Lynn A. Blewett is principal investigator and director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center and professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She also directs the State Health Access Reform Evaluation, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program Office to fund and synthesize rigorous evaluation of state health reform initiatives.


Ed Howard is the founding executive vice president of the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit health policy group in Washington, D.C., that he formed in 1991 with Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Howard and his staff have organized almost 500 briefings for members of Congress and their staffs, for reporters, for Executive Branch staff and for health-related groups.

Panelists discuss challenges, implementation of the Affordable Care Act

AHCJ member Duncan Moore asks a question at the Feb. 24 Chicago chapter meeting about the Affordable Care Act at the one-year mark.

Support for health reform has been complicated by political rhetoric and the general public's lack of knowledge about the Affordable Care Act, according to officials who spoke at last week's AHCJ Chicago chapter meeting.

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the director of coverage policy in the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Humans Services, Michael McRaith, director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, and William Santulli, chief operating officer for Advocate Health Care, gathered to tell journalists where the Act stands as its one-year anniversary approaches.

The talked about the most common misnomers about the health care reform effort, how health insurance exchanges are being implemented, the concept behind accountable care organizations and more.



Audio of the panel is available for AHCJ members to download.

David Mayer, M.D.
David Mayer, M.D.

Medical errors and the movement toward transparency 

David Mayer, M.D., co-producer of the award-winning film, "The Faces of Medical Error ... From Tears to Transparency: The Story of Lewis Blackman," spoke to Chicago's AHCJ chapter on Sept. 20, 2010, about the growing movement of transparency in health care.

Mayer described changing the culture of "deny and defend" in hospitals to a culture free of "shame and blame," in which health care providers acknowledge mistakes that are made. In such efforts, providers are encouraged to learn from mistakes and they explain the errors that do harm to patients and their families.

Mayer, a leader on transparency in health care, is associate dean for the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, co-executive director for UIC's Institute for Patient Safety Excellence and a practicing anesthesiologist.

AudioListen to the discussion, which includes the legal viewpoints on such transparency, why and how it might make a difference in patient safety, how hospitals and educators are empowering residents to report problems, and much more.

Film: "Do No Harm

Several members attended a May 21 screening of the documentary "Do No Harm ." The film, directed by Rebecca Schanberg and supported by Chicago nonprofit the Kindling Group, follows two whistleblowers who uncovered a tax-exempt hospital's aggressive billing practices toward the uninsured. Their actions prompted dozens of class action lawsuits filed on behalf of uninsured patients across the country. AHCJ member Andy Miller of the Atlanta Journal Constitution makes a cameo appearance in the documentary and was spotted in the audience. 

Breaking Taboos, Breaking News in HIV/AIDS 

Two Columbia College journalism classes joined AHCJ members to learn about new initiatives at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago on Nov. 12. The event, held at the college, began with pizza and networking.

Among the speakers was the Rev. Doris Green of the foundation. She spoke about working with Chicago churches to respond to HIV in their congregations and families. She also talked about trying unsuccessfully to pass a bill in the state Legislature to allow condom distribution in prisons. "I got beat up pretty bad on that one, but it strengthened me because I'm going back," Green said.

Where: Columbia College, 33 E. Congress, (northwest corner of Congress and Wabash).
When: Wed. Nov. 12 at 6 p.m.
Refreshments at 6 p.m. Speakers at 6:30 p.m.


  • Jim Pickett of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago will discuss the need for new HIV prevention technologies, beyond condoms. Anal intercourse is a common human behavior, and unprotected, is 5 to 80 times more likely to result in HIV transmission compared to unprotected vaginal intercourse.
  • Johnathan Briggs, foundation spokesman and former Tribune reporter, will introduce us to PEERSpeak, an interactive program that provides HIV/AIDS education through the voices of people living with HIV. It's funded by the National Library of Medicine.
  • Rev. Doris Green talks about Faith Responds to AIDS and the foundation's work with the incarcerated.

Overcoming the hurdles: How to write accurate medical stories on deadline

Speaker: Gary Schwitzer, health journalism professor, University of Minnesota; publisher,; AHCJ member; former CNN medical news unit head
Speaker: Harold DeMonaco, M.S., Co-Chair, Human Research Committee, Massachusetts General Hospital; clinical adviser and one of a team of medical editors for Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making

Learn how to address the challenges of writing accurate, balanced and complete stories on deadline despite biased sources and commercial pressures in the medical industry. The speakers will use real stories as examples to show how it doesn't take an extra thousand words of type or 10 minutes of air to write a solid medical story. is a Web site dedicated to improving the accuracy of news stories about medical treatments, tests, products and procedures. In two years of operation, it has rated more than 550 stories for accuracy, balance and completeness using a standardized rating system on 10 criteria.

Date: Wednesday, May 28
Time: 9 a.m.-noon
Place: Chicago newsroom of Medill Reports, Northwestern University
Address: 105 W. Adams, Suite 200 (at the corner of Clark Street)

The Association of Health Care Journalists presents this program with support from the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making.


New pharmacological treatments for addiction

Chicago's Dr. Martin Paisner says he can never guess which alcoholics and drug addicts are going to be able to maintain sobriety once he gets them through detox. That's what keeps him motivated in his work as an addiction specialist.

Paisner spoke to journalists and students who attended an informative after-work event hosted by the Chicago chapter of AHCJ on March 10. Dr. Andrea King of the University of Chicago talked about her research on nicotine addiction.

The event, held at Columbia College, began with refreshments and a short social time. Maureen McKinney helped organize the event.


  • Dr. Andrea King is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago, and the director of the Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. King has numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health to study young adult binge drinkers, alcohol-smoking interactions and treatment for nicotine dependence.
  • Dr. Martin Paisner is a Chicago-based psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and addiction specialist.

When: Monday, March 10, 6 p.m.

Where: Columbia College, 33 E. Congress, Chicago (northwest corner of Congress and Wabash).

Thanks to Maureen McKinney for organizing the event and to the Columbia College Journalism Department for providing the space.

Chicago: Attendees get overview of new obesity resource

AHCJ's Chicago chapter drew 12 people to its third meeting, on Nov. 12, 2007, at the Rock Bottom Brewery downtown.

Board member Carla Johnson gave an update on AHCJ's finances, membership growth and goals. Johnson has agreed to serve as the board's liason to AHCJ's growing chapters.

Board member Mary Chris Jaklevic presented an overview of the AHCJ's new online guide, "Covering Obesity," which she helped edit. The event also served as a forum to gather ideas for future meeting topics.

Chicago chapter hears about health care proposals

Two health care reform proposals were discussed at the July 12, 2007, gathering of the Chicago chapter of AHCJ. About 17 people attended the meeting at Columbia College.

Teresa Kurtenbach of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services spoke about Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to require insurers to offer affordable coverage to uninsured state residents. With lawmakers still trying to reach a compromise on a state budget, the future of the governor's "Illinois Covered" plan was uncertain. The governor has proposed business payroll taxes and gambling expansion to pay for it.

Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, made a case for eliminating private health insurance and creating a national health program. He also told an anecdote about his old friend, the late Mike Royko.

Chicago chapter's kickoff meeting yields scoop, April 23, 2007

The Chicago chapter steering committee:
Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press
Mark Taylor, Independent journalist
Len Strazewski, Columbia College
Mary Chris Jaklevic, Freelance writer, Northwestern University
Duncan Moore, Independent journalist