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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 recent years, there's been growing concern that a lack of doctors will keep newly insured patients from accessing care. Now, a new tool can predict the supply of physicians and help journalists ask and answer new questions from the data. Fresh story ideas abound.

Picture of Judy  Silber

Prop. 45 would grant California’s insurance commissioner the ability to approve or reject health insurance rate increases. While voter support soared over the summer, approval has fallen since then, as the insurance industry invests heavily in defeating the measure.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

In Washington state, a lack of psychiatric beds has led to a court ruling that says patients can't be held against their will in ERs while awaiting long-term care. While the ACA has expanded benefits, it has also revealed just how scarce resources often are.

Picture of Judy  Silber

In California, millions have been added to the Medicaid ranks. But even the state's most forward-thinking counties are struggling to provide timely health care access to all of these new patients.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

The ACA is projected to save hospitals billions in uncompensated care, with the biggest savings in states that expanded Medicaid. But the good news for some hospitals is tempered by ongoing cuts in federal funding that could threaten the sustainability of safety-net systems.

Picture of Judy  Silber

In its first year on California's state health exchange, Kaiser trailed three other major insurers in market share. As the second open enrollment period fast approaches, Kaiser is trying to better reach Latinos by beefing up Spanish language outreach, call operators and online services.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

With the upcoming enrollment for California's health exchange expected to be half as long and twice as hard, officials are looking to improve on call wait times, outreach to diverse communities, and persuading the remaining uninsured to sign up.

Picture of Judy  Silber

A recent policy brief found that public health programs must expand their reach if they're to increase the number of people who receive preventive care. But reaching those who don't routinely seek care means meeting people where they are — culturally, linguistically and geographically.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

The Affordable Care Act has spurred new conversations about how to best deliver mental health benefits. Ideas range from incorporating more mental health services into primary care visits to the use of avatar systems to help schizophrenics control hallucinations.

Picture of Judy  Silber

In addition to the big insurers, California's state health exchange includes a handful of smaller, region-specific plans. While some have found more early success than others, collectively these plans offer consumers choice and, in some cases, more affordable options.

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Announcements

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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