Michell Eloy

Reporter

Michell (yes, no ‘e’) covers health and health care policy for WABE, with an emphasis on investigative reporting. She’s also a member of NPR and Kaiser Health News' team of reporters covering health care in the states. Prior to covering health, Michell worked as a general assignment reporter for WABE, covering state and local politics, education issues, courts and everything in between. 

An Illinois-native, Michell comes to WABE and the Atlanta area from Chicago, where she spent three years working and interning in the Windy City’s media scene. She got her first state of covering public affairs and breaking news as an intern at WBEZ, where her reporting ended a years-long bid by Chicago City Hall and the police department to build an outdoor gun range on the city’s south side. She then spent a year copy editing and writing feature stories for the Chicago Tribune before deciding to return to public radio.

Michell’s work has been published by NPR, Kaiser Health News, Marketplace, Chicago Tribune, WBEZ, Chicago magazine and Paste magazine. She received a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Ways to Connect

Jeff Roberson / associated press file

State employees and teachers could see a slight increase in how much they pay for their health insurance next year.

The Department of Community Health announced at its monthly board meeting Tuesday that health insurance premiums will increase on average by 2.5 percent starting in January for non-Medicare members. 

“I have seen stories and news accounts that talk about the federal exchange rates maybe going up as much as 12 to 13 percent,” DCH Commissioner Clyde Reese said. “So in comparison, we think 2.5 average is very reasonable.”

Cassandra Douglas / WABE

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines faltered as it tried to get back to a normal schedule Wednesday after a power outage earlier this week, canceling more than 300 flights by the afternoon. 

Wednesday morning, the airline projected around 90 flights would be canceled and that it would be back to normal operations by mid- to late-afternoon. As of 4:30 p.m., the airline said 317 flights had been canceled so far, but none within the hour. Delta said among the more than 3,000 flights that did depart Wednesday, about two-thirds left within a half hour of their scheduled departure time. 

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act hold up signs as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday June 25, 2015.
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Georgia could pull down $8 to $9 from the federal government for every one state dollar it spends to expand Medicaid, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit looked at Georgia and the 18 other states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The findings show Georgia could get from $8.86 to $9.42 for every state dollar it spends to expand the federal health program that covers the poor and disabled, depending on how many people enroll in the program.

Michell Eloy / WABE

The family of a man who died after being stunned with a Taser has filed a wrongful death suit against DeKalb County and three of its police officers, one year after the incident.

Troy Robinson, 33, was scaling a wall trying to flee the police after a traffic stop, when Officer Casey Benton fired his stun gun, according to a preliminary investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Robinson fell to the ground. An autopsy showed he died of severe head and neck trauma.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is on pace to exceed the record-setting 101 million passengers it served last year, when it became the first airport in the world to pass the 100 million mark.  

Airport officials say during the first half of 2016, about 51.3 million people passed through Hartsfield-Jackson, a nearly 4.5 percent increase over the same time last year. The number of flights is also up about 3.5 percent compared to the first six months of last year.

Michell Eloy / WABE News

Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid brought together government, court and police officials Wednesday to meet with the community about policing and criminal justice issues.

Cupid said the three-hour public forum was necessary in the wake of recent police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, respectively, at the hands of police. She said she hopes this is the first of more meetings to come.

Grady Memorial Hospital
Al Such / WABE

Only two Georgia hospitals earned top scores from the federal government, according to new and controversial star ratings released this week.

Gordon Hospital in Calhoun and Northside Medical Center in Columbus received the only five-star ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which rated 3,671 hospitals nationwide. The full rankings are posted on CMS’ Hospital Compare website.

Piedmont Hospital
Al Such / WABE

Nearly one month past a July 1 deadline, Piedmont Health and insurer UnitedHealthcare are still at loggerheads over a new network contract.

In an email last week, United spokesperson Daryl Richard said negotiations are “going slowly,” but they remain in the works.

“We were expecting greater engagement from Piedmont to reach a quick resolution for the people we collectively serve, but they have made very few changes at all from their original contract demands first submitted months ago.”

United and Piedmont did not respond to requests for comment Monday. 

John Locher / Associated Press

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to take the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio Tuesday morning to talk about criminal justice reform.

Deal will sit on a panel with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin for a special issue briefing at the convention.

Criminal justice reform is part of the 2016 GOP Platform.

Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts, said Georgia's reforms have been some of the most far-reaching in the nation.

David Goldman / AP Photo

Organizers with the Black Lives Matter movement are scheduled to meet with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Monday at City Hall.

Reed and city Police Chief George Turner promised a meeting with protesters last week after hundreds demonstrated outside the Governor's Mansion.

Tiffany Smith says she's part of the group crafting a strategy ahead of that meeting, but she didn't give specifics.

"I'll be as transparent as I can be," Smith said. "I want to say there's a very strategic and focused effort to really consolidate and understand the needs of Atlanta."

Emory University drug development groups are working to find a treatment for those infected by the Zika virus.
Ricardo Mazalan / Associated Press

Georgia health departments and mosquito control groups are grappling with dashed hopes for federal dollars to fight the Zika virus, after Congress failed to pass a funding bill ahead of a weeks-long summer break.

On Thursday, Congress adjourned for seven weeks, with plans to return after Labor Day in early September.

Alison Guillory / WABE

This story is part of "Atlanta Remembers: The 1996 Olympics," WABE's series on the impact of the 1996 Summer Olympics on Atlanta, 20 years later. For more stories, click here.    

On a sunny summer day in downtown Atlanta, students dart across the main plaza of Georgia State University, with very few students lingering in the stagnant, 90-degree heat.  

Mike Stewart / Associated Press

With Atlanta set to see its fifth straight day of protests, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called on demonstrators to remain peaceful.

Last week's police killings of two black men – one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the other outside Minneapolis – kicked off protests nationwide. Those protests intensified after a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas.

Rica Madrid poses for a photograph as she prepares to roll a joint in her home on the first day of legal possession of marijuana for recreational purposes,
Alex Brandon / AP Photo

A new report out of the University of Georgia says legalizing medical marijuana lowers national prescription drug costs.

The father-daughter research team looked at prescriptions filed from 2010 to 2013 with Medicare's prescription benefits program, known as Part D. They then narrowed the search to the District of Columbia and 17 states that had legalized medical marijuana as of 2013, and chose nine conditions for which marijuana could serve as an alternative treatment.

Susan Walsh / Associated Press

Georgia's Republican U.S. Senators weighed in Tuesday on the FBI's recommendation not to bring charges against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of private email servers while she was secretary of state.

FBI Director James Comey said, while Clinton's handling of classified data over private email servers was “extremely careless,” he said “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Piedmont Hospital
Al Such / WABE

More than 100,000 people who get their health insurance through UnitedHealthcare will likely have to pay more to get care at most Piedmont facilities starting Friday, after the two deadlocked on a new network agreement.

United and Piedmont had until Thursday to reach a new agreement before the current three-year plan expired. After months of negotiation, the two couldn't work out a plan before the deadline.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says heroin overdoses tracked throughout most of the state more than doubled last year compared to the previous year.

The GBI says so far it's counted 134 people who died of an overdose related to heroin in 2015, compared to 61 in 2014. The agency says last year’s number could still go up because there are a few cases the medical examiner hasn't finished.

Last year marks the second time in a row Georgia saw heroin overdoses double year-over-year.

Fulton County officials have unveiled dozens of new proposals as part of an “action plan” to ultimately end new transmissions of HIV and AIDS, including one that could butt up against a state law.

Piedmont Hospital
Al Such / WABE

Around 150,000 Piedmont Healthcare patients could soon find their doctors are no longer in their network if the hospital system fails to reach an agreement with insurer UnitedHealthcare by next week.

In a letter to patients last week, Ronnie Brownsworth, who leads the Piedmont Clinic, warned United plan holders that the network would likely no longer accept the insurer’s commercial plans come July because negotiations for a new contract had stalled.

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

There’s more evidence mounting that Georgians who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act could pay even more for their coverage next year.

Atlanta Streetcar
Alison Guillory / WABE

Members of Atlanta's City Council say the city should look into MARTA taking over full operation of the streetcar after state officials threatened to shut the light rail system down. 

At a transportation committee meeting Wednesday, council members grilled city and MARTA officials over how they’re addressing dozens of problems flagged by the Georgia Department of Transportation in a letter sent last month.

Councilman Kwanza Hall said that the city should let MARTA take full control of the system.

Emory University drug development groups are working to find a treatment for those infected by the Zika virus.
Ricardo Mazalan / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Public Health is increasing efforts to track the mosquito species known to carry the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects and other neurological disorders.

Researchers say Zika can be carried by two species of mosquitoes. There's the Asian Tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, which is more common in Georgia.

The primary carrier, though, is the Aedes aegypti, and its prevalence here isn't as well documented, DPH’s Director of Environmental Health Dr. Chris Rustin said.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue has drawn quick criticism for comments he made about President Barack Obama and the Bible this morning.

Speaking at an event for Christian Conservatives in Washington, D.C., Perdue started his comments by telling attendees to pray for Obama.

Georgia's freshman senator continued, “But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray. We should pray like Psalms 109:8 says. It says, 'Let his days be few, and let another have his office.'”

That particular psalm continues:

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Michelle Wirth / WABE

The Republican head of the Georgia Senate's Health and Human Services committee says the state needs to “re-examine” expanding Medicaid.

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) didn’t endorse the idea of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Rather, she thinks the state should look at negotiating a federal waiver, as other Republican-majority states have done, to tailor how any potential Medicaid expansion would work.

Robert Olsen
Branden Camp / Associated Press

 

A white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed, naked, mentally ill black veteran just outside Atlanta pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges against him.

Robert Olsen shot Anthony Hill on March 9, 2015, while responding to a call about a naked man behaving erratically outside a suburban Atlanta apartment complex. He was indicted in January on numerous charges, including felony murder and has since resigned from the force.

DeKalb County Police Department / Associated Press

A former DeKalb County police officer indicted for killing an unarmed black man is scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon.

Robert Olsen faces two counts of felony murder and two counts of violating his oath of office, among others.

He'll be formally read the charges against him in an arraignment hearing in DeKalb County Superior Court. 

Allison Guillory / WABE

Among the countless Georgians who find themselves addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin are women who are pregnant.

Babies who are exposed in utero to these kinds of drugs, along with other licit and illicit substances, can become dependent on them and experience withdrawal symptoms after birth. The medical condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS.

As of the beginning of this year, Georgia’s Department of Public Health made NAS a required reportable condition and began tracking cases.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

Eddie* remembers when his addiction to painkillers started.

The now-28-year-old Ellijay resident got hit in the face with a baseball, broke his nose and got a prescription for hydrocodone. He was 16.

“Just liked the way they made me feel,” he says. “They took the pain away. They gave me confidence. It just kind of stayed in the back of my mind.”

About a year later, Eddie complained to a co-worker that he’d hurt his back during baseball practice. She handed him some more pills.

Alison Guillory / WABE

To Rick Allen, the way Georgia currently monitors prescriptions for drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone has some problems.

“I have been threatened numerous times with going to jail, contempt of court,” said Allen, who leads the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

Michell Eloy / WABE

Zac Talbott sees the irony of running an opioid treatment program in an old doctor’s office.

“The funny thing is, a lot of patients are like, ‘This is where I first started getting prescribed pain pills,’” Talbott says, chuckling.

Now, the Tennessee native says the same people are coming to his clinic in Chatsworth, Georgia, a small city about a half-hour south of the Tennessee border, to fight their addiction to those very pills.

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