GBO NEWS: GOP Tax Rigmarole; New America Media to Shut Down; USC, Harvard Journalism Fellowship Deadlines; NYT’s John Leland’s New Oldest-Old Book; & MORE


E-News of the Journalists Network on GenerationsOur 24th Year.

November 8, 2017 — Volume 17, Number 12

EDITOR’S NOTE: GBONews, e-news of the Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), emanates from a new e-mail address and phone contact. readers do not have to make any changes. The newsletter will continue publishing alerts for journalists, producers and authors covering generational issues from the same WordPress blog via our Constant Contact emails. However, to reach this editor now, send your news of important stories or books (by you and others), fellowships, awards or pertinent kvetches to GBO News Editor Paul Kleyman. []. You can subscribe to at no charge simply by sending a request to Paul with your name, address, phone number and editorial affiliation or note that you freelance. You’ll receive the table of contents as e-mail, just click through to the full issue at GBONews does not provide its list to other entities.

 In This Issue: 15 years since 9/11, one year since 11/9.

 1. TAX: RIGMAROLE: *** “House GOP Tax Cut Bill Has Pluses and Pitfalls for Healthcare Stakeholders,” by Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare; *** “House Tax Bill Would Scrap Deduction For Medical Expenses,” by Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News; *** Statement from Center for Medicare Advocacy and Medicare Rights Center; *** “Hello Trump Tax Cuts, Goodbye Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security,” Newsweek, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich; *** “Why Skyrocketing Out-of-Pocket Expenses Are the Real Crisis in the American Health Insurance System,” by Trudy Lieberman, USC Center for Health Journalism’s “Remaking Health Care” blog.

2. NAM SHUT-DOWN IS SAD TIME FOR THE GEN BEAT: New America Media/Pacific News Service to Shut Down After 47 Years

3. EYES ON THE PRIZE: *** 2018 California Fellowship Deadline Dec. 15, USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism; *** Harvard’s Nieman Fellowship Deadlines, Dec. 1, 2017 andJan. 31.

4. THE BOOKMOBILE: *** Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from A Year Among the Oldest Old,” by the New York Times’ John Leland, Jan. 2018 publication, pre-pub review proofs now available.

5. THE STORYBOARD:  *** “Studies in Tradition: Caring for our Elders,” by Dawn A. Davis, Caribbean Today; *** “Black Primary Care and Family Care Providers Embrace Online Toolkit to Help in Early Detection of Dementia,” by Charlene Muhammad, Los Angeles Sentinel; *** “Aging Farmworkers Face Challenges with Retirement,” by Stephanie Sanchez, KAWC Yuma Public Radio; *** “Ageism Is Everywhere — Here’s What We Can Do About It,” by Katy Read, Minneapolis Star Tribune; *** “Can Technology Predict Falls in Older Adults?” byRandy Rieland,Next Avenue; *** “Senior Medicine: When ‘More’ Isn’t Better,” Arthur Allen, POLITICO; *** “Financial Circumstances Have People Over 50 Working Longer,” Washington Informer, by Kevin McNeir.



***House GOP Tax Cut Bill Has Pluses and Pitfalls for Healthcare Stakeholders,” by Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare (Nov. 2): “Healthcare companies, executives and professionals could enjoy lower business and personal taxes while facing reduced revenue due to Medicare and Medicaid cuts that may be used to pay for the tax reductions, under the House Republican tax reform bill.”

Not even the thunderbolt’s in the box-office hit, Thor: Rangarok, could easily crash through the congressional weeds of the 429-page House Bill, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” passed last week and now punted to the Senate realm, so kudos to Meyer and others for trying. The veteran health policy reporter notes that the legislation, “which congressional Republicans hope to pass quickly through the expedited budget reconciliation process with little or no Democratic support—would slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%.” That would benefit profitable companies like UnitedHealth Group, HCA and Universal Health Services.

Meyer explains various up- and down-sides of the tax proposal for Modern Healthcare’s provider-based readership. He continued, “Beyond the immediate tax impact, however, analysts cautioned that healthcare companies should beware of big cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Affordable Care Act funding that Congress may consider to offset the revenue losses from the bill’s tax cuts. The House and Senate budget resolutions capped the 10-year cost of the tax cut package at $1.5 trillion. A Democratic analysis of the Senate budget blueprint passed by Republicans last month found that it would cut Medicaid by $1 trillion and Medicare by $473 billion over 10 years.”

The story quotes Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “This massive tax cut for the rich would add trillions of dollars to the national debt, allowing Republicans to then come after Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other middle-class priorities.”

Yeah, but what do the bottom-liners in health are think? Meyer quotes Anders Gilberg, senior vice president for government affairs at the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA): “There’s no way you can offset $1.5 trillion in tax cuts without looking at entitlements.”

And analyst Sheryl Skolnick of Mizuho Securities “agreed that hospital leaders need to watch out for possible cuts in federal healthcare programs as a way to pay for the tax cuts” that CEOs would otherwise love. She cautioned, “Careful what you wish for, you may get it.”

Also, Meyer reports, “A controversial provision of the House GOP bill that affects consumers is the proposed elimination of itemized deductions for high medical expenses, including long-term care costs. That deduction costs the Treasury about $10 billion a year. The [American Hospital Association] opposes ending that deduction. Matt Fiedler, an economist at the Brookings Institution’s Center on Health Policy observed that although “this deduction isn’t well-targeted to help people with high medical costs, it’s a bad idea to repeal it to help pay for tax cuts for corporations and wealthier Americans. ‘It could be sensible policy to repeal the deduction, but here it’s just financing regressive tax cuts,’ Fiedler said.”

Here are some other articles and sources for divining questions on how the budget and tax bills may affect older Americans:

*** “House Tax Bill Would Scrap Deduction For Medical Expenses,” by Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News (Nov. 2): “The tax bill unveiled by Republicans in the House . . . would not, as had been rumored, eliminate the tax penalty for failure to have health insurance. But it would eliminate a decades-old deduction for people with very high medical costs. The controversial bill is an effort by Republicans to revamp the nation’s tax code and provide dramatic tax cuts for business and individuals. However, its future is not yet clear because Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, appear divided on key measures.”

*** “Joint Statement from Center for Medicare Advocacy and Medicare Rights Center on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”: Judith Stein, executive director, Center for Medicare Advocacy, and Joe Baker, president, Medicare Rights Center, are always knowledgeable sources for the consumer advocacy perspective: “These tax cuts set up a two-step process: 1) cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, adding $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade; 2) use the higher debt—created by the tax cuts—to argue that drastic cuts to our bedrock programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, are necessary. This strategy is not new; some lawmakers regularly repeat tired and inaccurate arguments that Medicare is unaffordable for our country, but this tax cut will create additional pressure to make Medicare beneficiaries pay for newly created debt.” Their media contact for clarifications or interviews is Mitchell Clark: – 212-204-6286.

*** “Hello Trump Tax Cuts, Goodbye Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security,” Newsweek, is the relevant multimedia blog by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich of UC Berkeley. Ever informative and always entertaining: “Republicans say economic ‘growth’ will pay for the tax cuts, so there’s no need to cut social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. But Republicans have just passed a budget that would cut nearly $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for these tax cuts. Pell Grants, housing assistance, and even cancer research are also on the chopping block. Now, they say we shouldn’t take their budget resolution seriously. It was just a device to get the tax bill through the Senate with 51 votes.” His analyses, with a funny and sharp 3-min. video, usually exposes the questionable bipartisan tropes form his decidedly progressive point of view.

*** “Why Skyrocketing Out-of-Pocket Expenses Are the Real Crisis in the American Health Insurance System,” by Trudy Lieberman, USC Center for Health Journalism’s “Remaking Health Care” blog (Nov. 6): When is insurance not really insurance? That’s what an Ohio man named Dave wanted to know . . . Both he and his wife are retirees with an annual income around $57,000. He’s on Medicare; his wife had an Affordable Care Act policy until she went on Medicare last month. Her premiums have tripled since the ACA took effect, but a premium subsidy helped. Deductibles are another story. “Even though premiums have jumped dramatically,” Dave told me, “the deductibles went up even more,” eventually reaching $5,500. Higher deductibles, coinsurance and copayments were always going to come back to haunt the Affordable Care Act.”

Regardless of whether Obamacare lives, dies or is otherwise Trumped up, Lieberman, who was chief investigative health editor at Consumer Reports for many years, consistently digs down into the real issues under the skin of phony bipartisan bickering. She Writes, “American health insurance is at a crossroads until the country figures out how to control its medical costs, and Dave’s question still needs an answer.”



GBO’s editor learned last week that New America Media (NAM) will close its doors Nov. 30. This news was certainly dismaying, but it also evoked a sense of gratitude for what NAM and its founder, Executive Director Sandy Close, did to extend my work on the journalism of aging for the past nine years. In part, the Journalists Network on Generations (JGN) and GBONews continue today because of NAM’s critical in-kind support over that time. (Those who’d like more details can visit the NAM website to see their release, “New America Media Announces Closure of Organization.”)

As I indicated in the last issue, I’d planned to start moving on from NAM’s day-to-day newsroom action for some time, while also keeping GBONews going – we’ll hit our 25th anniversary in the New Year – as well as continuing work on the Journalists Fellows in Aging program with the Gerontological Society of America. But for quite a while I’ve wanted to work on other things in my “unretirement” (to borrow Chris Farrell’s phrase). That hope for a phased change, though, was hastened along by PNS/NAM’s declining fortunes. Like too many worthy news organizations lately, a combination of factors conspired to push NAM toward and then over the financial edge, after nearly a half century of innovations in reporting.

PNS was started in 1970 by Sandy’s late husband, Franz Schurmann and others, mainly China scholar Orville Schell, who later spent a decade as dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Sandy stepped in a couple of years later. Her pioneering work to amplify the voices of youth led her to found Youth Outlook, Youth Radio and other entities leading to her MacArthur “genius” fellowship in the mid-1990s. She then used that hefty award to help support her development of what became NAM to raise the voices of ethnic and other community-based media. It was Sandy’s wider lens on diversity—and her own caregiving experience–that prompted her to bring me onboard in late 2008 to help build the elders newsbeat.

I could go on about her remarkable accomplishments and accolades, such as her George Polk Award for careers achievement, her I.F. Stone Medal for independent journalism from Harvard’s Nieman Foundation and the 1997 Oscar for the documentary short, “Breathing Lessons.” But I especially wanted to mention her MacArthur here because Sandy excises it along with others from most announcements about her work. For all of NAM’s woes at this juncture, the award that continues to shine most brilliantly for Sandy is her humility in championing the meek and her vigorous efforts to protect their inheritance of the earth. That’s a legacy that won’t terminate on Nov. 30, or any time soon.

Over the past nine years, we posted a total of 888 articles on aging in English, with many linking to the original stories in such languages as Spanish, Chinese and Korean. Our collaboration with GSA on the Journalists in Aging Fellows program, the largest of our projects on this subject area, was not the only one. In all, we raised about $2.25 million in grants to support multicultural journalism on aging on such topics as palliative care, SSI for impoverished elders, business innovations in the aging-boomer market, and care coordination for low-income seniors. Our journalism fellowships have immersed about 175 reporters in ethnic and mainstream media in the issues of aging and sources they can tap, plus dozens more who attended subject-focused media briefings.

Meanwhile, as I noted, the Journalists on Aging Fellows program posts on. Not only am I continuing to work with GSA’s Todd Kluss and the Journalists Network on Generations (publisher of, but we already have a great start on continuing the program for a ninth year in 2018.



*** The Applications Deadline for the 2018 California Fellowship at USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism’s is December 15. Selected Fellows will attend the five-day training program in Los Angeles next March. The all-expenses-paid “comes with a $1,000 reporting grant to help with the costs of producing a substantive explanatory or investigative project on a health issue important to your community, as well as six months of mentoring by a senior journalist. Up to five Fellows will receive an additional $2,000 for community engagement, as well as six months of specialized mentoring on creative ways to involve your community in your reporting.” Fellows propose a substantive reporting project on an important health issue, which they are to complete within six months of attending the training program.

Applicants can be print, broadcast and online journalists (either staffers or freelancers) from California, as well as journalists based elsewhere who contribute to California media outlets or to national outlets “with a California footprint.” The site adds, “It’s not just health reporters we’re looking for. We define health very broadly. Through past Fellowships, general assignment reporters as well as education, criminal justice, county and state government and environmental reporters have found new ways to think about their coverage. To encourage collaboration between mainstream and ethnic media, preference will be given to applicants who propose a joint project for use by both media outlets.”

The 2018 California Fellowship will focus two themes, says its website: “How neighborhood life, social inequities, race, education and the environment influence health, and changes in the healthcare landscape. We will focus attention on the enormous implications for California of the effort by President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”

The Fellowship training packs in workshops, seminars and field trips presented by experts and prize-winning journalists, who present “new ways of thinking about the health of their communities — and effective ways of explaining them to their audiences. Each Fellowship also features a half-day project workshop for Fellows and their editors, whom we bring in at our expense.”

For more information visit [] or email Martha Shirk at We strongly encourage a conversation about your proposed project before you apply.

*** Harvard’s Nieman Fellowship Application Deadlines are, for the International Fellowships, Dec. 1, 2017, and for U.S. Fellowships, Jan. 31, 2018. Up to 12 Fellows each from the U.S. and International groups will spend the 2018-19 academic year at Harvard University, for which they will receive a stipend of $70,000 paid over a nine-month school year to cover living costs. The fellowship also provides housing, childcare and health insurance allowances based on the number and ages of family members. Nieman additionally covers the cost of attending Harvard classes for fellows and their affiliates (fellows’ partners or spouses).

Fellows, besides spending their two semesters auditing classes at Harvard and participating in Nieman events, can also audit classes at MIT, Tufts and other area universities.

Can’t commit to a school year? The website explains, “The Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowships at Harvard offer short-term research opportunities to individuals interested in working on special projects designed to advance journalism in some new way.” These can run from a few weeks to three months.

Applicants for academic-year Nieman Fellowships, including staffers or freelancers, “must be working journalists with at least five years of full-time media experience.” Candidates nominate themselves for Nieman Fellowships by submitting an application and supplementary materials, including recommendation letters. There are no age limits or academic prerequisites, and a college degree is not required, says the website.



*** Lessons from the Oldest Old: The new book by the New York TimesJohn Leland brings together his profiles of six diverse New York City seniors, ages 85-plus, whose lives he followed throughout 2015. Titled, Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from A Year Among the Oldest Old, the book, to be published in January, is available now to journalists in uncorrected bound proofs.

Among the six elders he followed throughout was John Sorensen, 91, who began the project saying he’d “lost most of his interest in life after the death of his lover of 60 years,” a bookseller named Walter Caron. Leland also profiled Ping Wong, 89, who said she missed her late husband and the son who was murdered in China. (“I try not to think about bad things.”) And there’s avant guard artist, film pioneer and writer Jonas Mekas, 92, who had the “energy and urgency of three 30-year-olds.” He’s still making films, compiling books, running his website, and fundraising for his nonprofits.

For an advance reader’s copy, contact the Sarah Critchton Books imprint of Farrar, Straus & Giroux: Caroline Zavakos:, phone: 212-206-5227.



Recently rolling off the presses and online have been stories sponsored by Journalists in Aging Fellows program of the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media along with the Journalists Network on Generations. Thanks to the Silver Century Foundation, AARP, Commonwealth Fund, Retirement Research Foundation and the John A. Hartford Foundation for supporting this year’s fellowships.

*** “Studies in Tradition: Caring for Our Elders,” by Dawn A. Davis, Caribbean Today (Nov. 2): Davis leads her extensive news feature, “Taking care of elderly parents at home is a practice steeped in tradition throughout the Caribbean. It would be unheard of to place a loved one in a nursing home or similar facility, no matter their health condition. Living out one’s life at home with family is the dignified option . . . . But, sometimes that custom unravels because of overwhelming pressures. In other words, ‘Life happens.’”

Explaining that eldercare homes have always been stigmatized in the Caribbean as places for the poor, Davis profiled Amaali and her mother Enett Moore, 79, who has dementia. Even though Amaali lives in the UK, her two brothers refused to take on caregiving responsibility, leaving the task to their sister. Three years ago Amaali finally placed their mother in a South Florida nursing home for patients with cognitive impairment. “The decision . . . has resulted in anger and fractured relationships between the siblings,” Davis wrote.

The story quotes Lynn Friss Feinberg of the AARP Public Policy Institute: “A substantial and growing body of research, spanning over 35 years, shows that family caregiving can be stressful, burdensome and costly. Yet family caregiving generally has been viewed as a private issue, largely overlooked in public policy.” Overall, Davis went on, the American Psychological Association has reported “that 55 percent of caregivers describe being overwhelmed with the amount of care their family member needs.”

The article not only includes facts on Caribbean families, but also notes that caregiving pressures affect many family businesses. Davis noted, “Raul [Hernandez] and his wife own and manage a successful business. However, because he has become his mother’s main caregiver, he has stepped back from the day-to-day concerns of the company, instead leaving his wife with a more active role.” Without both of them, the business has struggled.

*** Black Primary Care and Family Care Providers Embrace Online Toolkit to Help in Early Detection of Dementia,” by Charlene Muhammad, Los Angeles Sentinel (Nov. 2): She wrote, “Black doctors and family caregivers are embracing an online toolkit designed to help with early detection of dementia or long-term memory loss.” The article explains that the toolkit, a project of the Gerontological Society of America, was developed by experts in GSA’s Workgroup on Cognitive Impairment Detection and Earlier Diagnosis. Muhammad observes that it “is much needed in the black community because African American elders are living longer and are less likely to use nursing homes, according to Black doctors and caregivers.”

She quoted Khadijah Lang, MD, president of the Golden State Medical Association (California’s chapter of the National Medical Association, the medical society for those serving patients of African descent.” Lang, said Muhammad, “stated in some instances family members may not recognize or may be in denial when an older relative is in the early or questionable stages of dementia.” In addition, the physician is enthusiastic about the toolkit because “we are not all psychiatrists. Many primary care providers may not be quite comfortable with bringing that up, especially if they don’t have an established relationship with the patient and/or family.”

Lang stressed that in African American and other cultures in the United States, “there is a large stigma attached to mental health. She added, “And so, if you’re dealing with African American patients and their families and start bringing up questions that are questioning a patient’s mental health status and ability, it’s reasonable to expect that people might be offended.”

*** “Aging Farmworkers Face Challenges with Retirement,” by Stephanie Sanchez, KAWC Yuma Public Radio (Nov. 2): While much of the American workforce looks forwards to retiring around 65, many seasonal farmworkers have no choice but to keep working well past that age. Enrique Ramirez Oliva, 73, told Sanchez in Spanish, ““Even the President of The United States has fruits and vegetables sitting on his table that were produced by a Mexican worker.”

The story continues, “According to the United States Department of Labor, the average age of farmworkers in America is 38 years old. Workers older than 45 make up about 20 percent of the 2 to 3 million farmworkers in the country. The average life expectancy is 49 years old. Living longer means working longer. In general, farmwork is considered a very hazardous job — in the top 10 for the most dangerous jobs, according to some research. Workers are exposed to extreme weather temperatures, pesticides and injury.”

Amanda Aguirre, president of the Regional Center for Border Health, a clinic treating many farmworker families, told Sanchez, “We see a lot of chronic care issues like diabetes, hypertension, issues with weight–then the physical, . . . the occupational issues like bending themselves, picking up the lettuce all day long.”

Those who are most vulnerable: “We found that women over 50 years old–50 percent or more of them were uninsured. They‘re not yet into Medicare eligibility,” Aguirre said.

Overall, “Few of the farmworkers here have access to pensions and retirement savings. There are no 401K plans in fieldwork. 54-year old Ignacio Cervantes sees nothing but work ahead. ‘I think I’ll work until I’m too old.’”

But all is not bleak, Sanchez reports: Ramirez Oliva, 73, “plans to work for two more seasons and move back to his place of birth, Nochistlan de Mejia, Zacatecas, Mexico. That’s where he and his wife, who is also a farmworker, plan to live off their Social Security.” The elderly couple make Arizona’s $10 per hour minimum wage. The story reports that in the Yuma area, growers are “becoming more aware of the need to maintain the health of their farmworkers . . . Companies have added break schedules and workers say their bosses take any injury on the job seriously.”

*** “Ageism Is Everywhere — Here’s What We Can Do About It,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Katy Read (Oct 31). Casual age bias is so pervasive that most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. The first step to fighting it, experts say, is to simply be aware of it.

*** “Can Technology Predict Falls in Older Adults?” Next Avenue, by Randy Rieland, (Oct 23). Fascinating new research–from home sensors to virtual reality–sheds light on how to prevent deadly falls in older people.

*** “Senior Medicine: When ‘More’ Isn’t Better,” Politico, by Arthur Allen (Oct 16). The Choosing Wisely initiative aims to curb $250 billion a year in unnecessary medical procedures, but it’s run into health-industry barriers.

*** “Financial Circumstances Have People Over 50 Working Longer,” Washington Informer, by Kevin McNeir (Oct 14). Despite a Harvard MBA, after turning 50—and the recession–black entrepreneur Elizabeth White struggled to keep up appearances to get business.


The Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), founded in 1993, publishes Generations Beat Online News ( JNG provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering generational issues, but not those representing services, products or lobbying agendas. Copyright 2017, JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman.

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