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Kaiser Family Foundation Launches New Non-Profit Health Policy News Service

Kaiser Health News Will Provide In-Depth Reporting on Major Health Policy Issues

Menlo Park, CA — In the midst of a major federal health reform debate and the ongoing financial turmoil in the media industry, the Kaiser Family Foundation officially launched Kaiser Health News (KHN) today to provide a new source of in-depth reporting on major health issues. KHN is staffed by experienced health policy journalists and editors, and will feature contributions from a wide array of leading health policy commentators and independent journalists.

KHN will distribute in-depth stories, news summaries, interviews and multimedia content through its Web site, www.kaiserhealthnews.org, and through partnerships with leading news organizations, including The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, NPR News and The New Republic.

“Our mission and our challenge with Kaiser Health News is to do in-depth coverage of health policy that informs and explains and that increasingly cannot be done in the mainstream news business,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman.

KHN is a major program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible analysis and information on health issues. All KHN content is available to other news organizations and the public free of charge.

KHN is headed by Executive Editors Laurie McGinley, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, and Peggy Girshman, previously of Congressional Quarterly and NPR. They will have responsibility for all editorial decisions about news content. KHN will begin with a team of 18, including newly-hired journalists and staff from the Foundation’s health information service, kaisernetwork.org, which has been integrated with KHN. KHN staff journalists include some of the most knowledgeable health policy journalists in the country: Julie Appleby, MPH, former health care industry and policy reporter for USA Today; Mary Agnes Carey, former associate editor for CQ HealthBeat; Jordan Rau, former political and health policy reporter in the Sacramento bureau of The Los Angeles Times; and Phil Galewitz, medical writer for The Palm Beach Post and a former health industry reporter for the Associated Press. John Fairhall, who is KHN’s senior editor, was an assistant managing editor at The Baltimore Sun for projects and health and science coverage. Well-known health policy journalist Julie Rovner will also be a contributor as part of a partnership between KHN and NPR.

Matt James, the Foundation’s senior vice president for media and public education, will oversee the operation of KHN.

“With action on health care reform heating up, this is an exciting time to launch Kaiser Health News. Health issues are always fascinating and a challenge to explain well, so we’ll do our best to provide high-quality coverage to interested news outlets and our Web site readers,” said Laurie McGinley, executive editor, news, of KHN.

“With the multimedia resources of KHN and the Foundation, we hope to provide video, audio, graphics and text that will enhance public understanding of these complex issues,” said Peggy Girshman, executive editor, online, of KHN.

At the heart of KHN will be in-depth, explanatory stories about complex health policy issues and major developments in Washington, D.C., and around the country in the health care marketplace and health care delivery system. The news service will cover policy stories like health care reform, developments in major public health coverage programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and complicated ongoing policy challenges like the financing of long-term care, and it will examine the nation’s health care system from a consumer perspective. KHN will also provide a synthesis of health policy news coverage through a daily health policy report, original programming from Kaiser’s broadcast studio, and regular columns from contributing writers and experts. Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of The New Republic, and Howard Gleckman, senior research associate at the Urban Institute and former senior correspondent at Business Week, will be writing bi-weekly columns. Among others who will contribute occasional columns are: Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Judy Feder of the Center for American Progress, and Mark Pauly of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

KHN has a distinguished National Advisory Committee of prominent journalists to provide guidance on important issues including the trends in journalism, which stories KHN should be producing, and how the stories should be distributed. The advisory committee is led by Leonard Downie, Jr., vice president at large, The Washington Post, and former executive editor of the Post, and also includes: Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Karen Dunlap, president and trustee of the Poynter Institute; Kevin Klose, dean of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and former president of National Public Radio, Inc.; Bill Kovach, founding chairman, Committee of Concerned Journalists; Charles R. Lewis, distinguished journalist in residence at American University, and a former producer for CBS’s 60 Minutes and co-founder of the Center for Public Integrity, an investigative news site; Diana Mason, Rudin professor of nursing at Hunter College-Bellevue School of Nursing, City University of New York, and director of the Center for Health Media and Policy; Arlene Morgan, associate dean, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; and Cathy Trost, director of exhibit development, Newseum.

“The timing is just right for Kaiser Health News. At a time when Americans want and need more health policy news than ever, the American news media are in crisis and having difficulty providing resources for this coverage,” said Leonard Downie, Jr., chair of KHN’s National Advisory Committee. “Kaiser Health News is an important initiative in non-profit news reporting, which will be closely watched in the search for new models for in-depth, public service journalism.”

The primary funding for KHN is built into Kaiser’s ongoing budget drawn from its endowment which it manages itself. Additionally, The SCAN Foundation has provided a three-year grant to Kaiser so that KHN can provide in-depth coverage of health care issues of concern to America’s senior population.

Other KHN staff include:
Senior Web Editor Jill Balderas, MPH, was formerly a senior producer and correspondent for Reuters Health Television and kaisernetwork
Web Editor Stephanie Stapleton spent 12 years as an editor and reporter for American Medical News
Assistant Editor Kate Steadman worked on kaisernetwork before transitioning to KHN
Senior Web Producer Beth Liu joined KHN from kaisernetwork where she was a senior web writer
Web Reporter Jennifer Evans formerly wrote for The Scientist and The Times-Picayune
Web Reporter Jenny Gold previously worked for NPR and CBS
Web Reporter Jessica Marcy was a health reporter for The Roanoke Times
Web Reporter Jaclyn Schiff covered global health issues for The Advisory Board
Web Reporter Andrew Villegas was a political reporter at The Greeley Tribune in Colorado
Web Reporter Chris Weaver previously worked at ProPublica and Part B News
Outreach Coordinator Kristen Carriker joined KHN after being a producer for the Foundation’s health08.org Web site.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, California, dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible analysis and information on health issues.