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Barbara Feder Ostrov's Health Journalism Blog

Veteran health journalist Barbara Feder Ostrov blogs about all things health journalism-related, in particular providing tips for reporters covering health policy, health reform, public health, community health, local health issues, access to care, health insurance, SCHIP, Medicaid and Medicare.

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Could medical marijuana really become a government-approved treatment for workers injured on the job?

Now that a California court has left the door open for that possibility, some experts think it’s only a matter of time. Which raises the specter of all kinds of interesting dilemmas for workers and employers: what if an injured employee uses medical marijuana approved by his or her worker’s comp doctor – and then fails a drug test?

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To most reporters, a recent lawsuit filed by California doctors to stop nurse specialists from administering unsupervised anesthesia looks like a yawn-worthy turf war over who gets to do what in medicine.

As far as I can tell, no mainstream California media outlet picked up the story. I can just see the thought bubbles (having been guilty of it myself in the past). That’s inside baseball. It’s not a local story, right?

Think again.

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A new Health Affairs interview with California HealthCare Foundation CEO Dr. Mark Smith caught my eye because if you read closely, you can find some intriguing new story ideas for journalists interested in health.

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Many journalists trying to cover their county’s safety-net health care system find it confusing at first, what with its alphabet soup of DSH payments, FQHC and CHC clinics, SNCP funds and MISP programs.

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One question that’s getting lost in all the chatter after Scott Brown’s historic election and Nancy Pelosi ‘s defeated comments on health reform today is what’s going to happen to the concessions that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries offered last year as serious reform discussions were just getting underway.  The Wall St.

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UPDATE: 9:54 p.m., Jan. 19

The phrase "stunning upset" doesn't even begin to capture the national political shockwaves as Republican Scott Brown defeats Martha Coakley for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat. The "what happens to health reform now?" political analysis below remains relevant. In the meantime, here's a quick roundup of the latest coverage and analysis:

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Some new research and reporting on global mental health and mental health disparities has me thinking about these topics in a new way. This is the kind of context that can add more nuance and sophistication to your reporting on mental health, particularly in ethnic minority and immigrant communities, so read on:

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2010-2011 state budget, released Jan. 8, met with the usual outrage from the state’s Democratic leaders for its dramatic cuts to health and social safety net programs. California Healthline offers a nice round-up of the media coverage here.

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I wrote earlier this week about "When Drugs Stop Working," a new series of articles on drug resistance around the world based on a six-month investigation by Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza.

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Drug-resistant infections are one of the world’s biggest emerging health problems, but they don’t seem to get much sustained media attention except when there’s an outbreak of MRSA. That’s why a new series of articles on drug resistance around the world, based on a six-month investigation by Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza, is so welcome.

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The engagement editor's mission: to advance the work of our California media partners, furthering public knowledge, storytelling, engagement and connection around community health and health policy issues in diverse communities. The ideal candidate will have both journalism and community engagement experience. Go to this link to apply.

We're looking for journalists who think big and want to gain new insights into the effects on vulnerable children  and their families of poverty, trauma and toxic stress. The all-expenses-paid 2017 National Fellowship, which provides five days of intensive workshops, field trips and discussions, along with $2,000-$12,000 grants for reporting and community engagement and six months of mentoring. Click here for details. Deadline: March 24.

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