NIHCM Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the Eighteenth Annual Health Care Journalism and Research Awards. The contests are judged by independent panels of experts.
Print Journalism Award, General Circulation
Michael J. Berens, Ken Armstrong, "Methadone and the Politics of Pain," The Seattle Times.
This series exposes the financial motivations for the prescription of methadone despite its dangers. The reporting draws attention to the high rate of overdose fatalities--and the fact that nearly half of those fatalities are patients on Medicaid. The judges called the series “shocking,” and they praised the way it starts with a “deep dive” into the local incidence of methadone overuse and then demonstrates the national impact. They also noted that the series has already resulted in changes to public policy.
Print Journalism Award, Trade Publication
Carol Patton, “Coupon Overdose,” Human Resource Executive.
This article documents how drug coupon programs introduced by pharmaceutical companies with the claim of helping workers save money actually drive up costs for both employers and employees. The judges called the article “fascinating” and “well written,” and they remarked how it reveals the “endless ingenuity of pharmaceutical companies” in marketing their products. The judges also noted that they appreciate the awareness this article draws to a largely unfamiliar issue.
Bill Coffin, “Tragic Tale,” National Underwriter Life & Health.
This story profiles Bill Mantlo, a former comic book writer who suffered severe injuries from an accident. The author chronicles the ups and downs of Bill’s treatment, including his brother’s struggle to maintain coverage for Bill’s rehabilitative care. The judges praised the article for its “attention to detail” and artfulness. They also called the story “bold,” noted the risk the publisher took in criticizing a major advertiser, and said “kudos to National Underwriter for taking this story on.”
Television and Radio Journalism Award
Producer/Director: Catherine Sager, Director of Photography: John E. Maher, Senior Producer: Brian Leonard, Production Manager: Jeremy Cole, Editor: Karen Silversmith, Production Company: Veritech Corporation, Sponsor: MassMutual, "Autism: Coming of Age," American Public Television.
This film takes a heartfelt look at young adults with autism who are aging out of a public school system that is also the primary source of autism services. Noting how nicely the film laid out the complications in delivering support to this population, the judges remarked that they “adored the [families]” in this “tremendous story.” They further noted this is an issue “we’re going to have to think about” as the growing population of autistic children becomes a growing population of autistic adults.
Jason Abaluck, Jonathan Gruber, "Choice Inconsistencies Among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program," American Economic Review 101(4): 1180-1210.
This study demonstrates that many Medicare Part D beneficiaries make drug plan enrollment choices that are not in their own best interest. Building on these findings, the authors investigate whether providing more individualized information or restricting the choice set could help seniors improve their choices. The judges were impressed by the authors’ originality and creativity and applauded the work as “technically sophisticated” and “intellectually ambitious.”
Niteesh Choudhry, Jerry Avorn, Robert Glynn, Elliott Antman, Sebastian Schneeweiss, Michele Toscano, Lonny Reisman, Joaquim Fernandes, Claire Spettell, Joy Lee, Raisa Levin, Troyen Brennan, William Shrank, “Full Coverage for Preventive Medications after Myocardial Infarction,” New England Journal of Medicine, 365(22): 2088-2097.
This study employs a randomized trial to evaluate the impact of eliminating co-payments for prescription drugs needed for secondary prevention after heart attack. Results showed that providing free coverage for targeted drugs improved medication adherence and patient outcomes and reduced patients’ financial burden without increasing overall spending. The judges complimented the very strong study design and indicated that the work has important implications for value-based benefit designs.
About the Awards
Established in 1993, the awards program recognizes the talented researchers and journalists who serve as catalysts for positive change by advancing and informing the health care policy debate. NIHCM's President and CEO, Nancy Chockley, explains, "NIHCM was founded with a mission to provoke new thinking and ideas. Through our awards, we recognize the tremendous contributions made by those in the fields of health care journalism and research who bring these new ideas to light and communicate them to the public." This year's competition brought in more than 340 entries. The winners were honored at NIHCM's Eighteenth Annual Research and Journalism Awards Dinner on May 21st in Washington, DC.