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A "show-me-the-evidence" health journalist offers tips on covering alternative medicine without dismissing all of it out of hand.

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Here's a quick roundup of recent articles localizing the potential impact of federal health reform and California's health budget cuts (see Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's additional $656 million in line-item vetoes here and the full California budget document here).

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Here's more coverage of the California budget cuts and their impact on health care, along with some new ideas for stories.

The general media consensus is that the state's Republicans won big in forcing major cuts in health and welfare programs, while Democrats are spinning their victory in saving the CalWORKS welfare program and the popular Healthy Families children's health insurance program from being eliminated outright.

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As California lawmakers finally reach a budget agreement, it's time to start assessing how the proposed deep cuts in health care services may affect your community.

Picture of William Heisel

Often following a major journalistic investigation a governor or a senator or a president even will call for hearings or declare the creation of a blue ribbon panel to assess the situation and decide how to proceed.

Years can go by before a report, usually thick with euphemism and buck passing, lands on someone's desk, often a different governor or senator or president than the one who called for the assessment. Processes are "streamlined." Efficiencies are realized. Nothing really changes.

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By the time you read about the case of 9-year-old Caitlin Greenwell, unable to talk because her brain was starved of oxygen during a botched birth, you are convinced: the oversight of nurses in California is abysmal.

Her story is deep inside "When Caregivers Harm," an investigative collaboration between ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times published Sunday.

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Within hours of the news breaking about Michael Jackson's death, attention started to turn toward one of the only eyewitnesses to the event: his personal physician.

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I wrote a few weeks ago about the coverage of Nadya Suleman, the unemployed woman with six kids who, with the help of a fertility doctor, ended up with eight more.

I talked about how you can use CDC data as a jumping-off point for stories about fertility practices in your area.

Picture of William Heisel

The decision by Astra Zeneca to stop the so-called JUPITER trial of its Crestor cholesterol medication last year garnered a ton of press attention. The New York Times captured the general tone of the coverage with this lead on a front-page story.

Picture of William Heisel

If you do a Google News search for the word "octomom," you will get more than 4,000 results on most days.

What is lost in much of the coverage of Nadya Suleman and her expanding brood is how completely expected this all should be. No one should be surprised that a woman with six kids could order up another eight more or that she could find a doctor willing to help her.

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