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Remaking Health Care

This column explores how health reform is changing the ways in which we pay for and deliver health care in the U.S. It also highlights the ways in which our current system is falling short on measures of coverage, access and affordability. On any given week, that could mean a look at how Republican plans to repeal Obamacare could reshape the individual insurance market, how the safety net system is adapting to new financial pressures, or how the trend of doctors and hospitals merging into ever-larger entities is driving up costs. We also explore health care costs and whether the Affordable Care Act or its successor plans can live up to the promise to rein them in. Throughout, we keep watch on how the goals of health reform intersect with the shaping power of markets and human behavior. Contributors include veteran health journalist Trudy Lieberman and independent health journalist Kellie Schmitt, with occasional contributions from independent journalists such as Susan Abram and Sara Stewart.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

In some states, reimbursements are so low that doctors say they lose money when they see Medicaid patients. And that can make it harder for patients to see their doctor — a recent study found that higher rates improve access to care.

Picture of Judy  Silber

Sign-ups for insurance on the federal and state health exchanges end in less than a month, and the state's push to enroll more Latinos appears to be paying off. Meanwhile, safety net providers such as Clinica Sierra Vista are focused on both signing up and retaining patients.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

A key goal of health reform has been to get insured individuals to seek out primary care rather than the ER. In the Bay Area, safety net systems are trying new approaches to funnel more patients into primary care, including putting nurses in firehouses.

Picture of Judy  Silber

As a federal "funding bump" expires, the payments California doctors receive for seeing Medicaid patients are dramatically decreasing. At the same time, the state is imposing a 10 percent fee cut that was approved in 2011 but is just now taking effect.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

The ACA expanded insurance coverage, but many children throughout the country are still not receiving important health care benefits. The extent of the coverage exclusions varies widely depending upon which state a child calls home.

Picture of Judy  Silber

As the pool of uninsured shrinks, public hospital systems must increasingly compete for newly insured patients. “We're forcing public hospitals to compete in one of the most competitive industries that has ever existed in the economy,” said one county health director.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

With millions of their patients newly insured because of health care reform, community health centers, once viewed as providers of last resort, are remaking themselves as providers of choice.

Picture of Judy  Silber

With Obamacare's second season of open enrollment underway, advocates remain focused on signing up the remaining uninsured. In California, the uninsured rate is projected to drop to 6 percent by 2019. But getting it much lower will require creative new strategies.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Is Obamacare really at risk now that Republicans have taken the Senate? The core of the law will likely survive, thanks to the presidential veto power. Still, sections of it could be pruned away by the legislature. Here are a few possibilities the media has highlighted.

Picture of Judy  Silber

After a resounding defeat Tuesday, backers of Prop. 45 vow to press on with efforts to give California's insurance commissioner greater regulatory authority over insurance rates. Meanwhile, one prominent health policy expert said the failed measure was "a huge threat to health reform in the state."

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U.S. children and teens have struggled with increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior for much of the past decade. Join us as we explore the systemic causes and policy failures that have accelerated the crisis and its inequitable impact, as well as promising community-driven approaches and evidence-based practices. The webinar will provide fresh ideas for reporting on the mental health of youth and investigating the systems and services. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors and a social media consultant to join its team. Learn more about the positions and apply.

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