News Release

Marilyn Werber Serafini Chosen as First Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow

Foundation Establishes Fellowship in Recognition of Former New York Times Health Journalist

WASHINGTON, D.C.– National Journal health care and welfare reporter Marilyn Werber Serafini has been selected as the inaugural Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Serafini is a veteran, award-winning journalist who has covered the U.S. Congress since 1985 writing about health care, tax, trade, welfare, pension and banking legislation. She covered the health reform debate during the Clinton Administration and the recent debate that led to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Serafini will begin her fellowship later this summer and work closely with the editors of Kaiser Health News (KHN) and KHN news organization partners on a series of articles on health policy and politics, as well as stories that explore the intricacies of health reform implementation. KHN is an editorially independent news service of the Foundation.

The fellowship honors the late Robin Toner, The New York Times‘ long-time health and politics reporter whose work so often framed the public debate on health issues and the intersection of these debates with the politics of Washington and the nation.

Noted for her relentless approach, meticulous work and elegant delivery, Toner was the first woman to be the national political correspondent for The New York Times. She led the newspaper’s coverage of the 1992 presidential election, and was central to its subsequent reporting on President Clinton’s health reform effort. In a Times career of nearly a quarter century, she reported on almost every domestic issue and had a significant role in the coverage of five presidential election cycles.

Toner started her journalism career at the Charleston, West Virginia Daily Mail, then worked for The Atlanta Journal Constitution before joining The New York Times.  She died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 54.

“Robin Toner set the standard for reporting on health policy and politics. This Fellowship will honor Robin and allow Toner fellows for years to come to bring a greater understanding of health policy issues to the American people,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman.

The Robin Toner Distinguished Fellowship continues the Kaiser Family Foundation’s longstanding commitment to health care journalism, recognizing the critical role the media plays in explaining complex health issues to the nation. This commitment has included media fellowship and internship programs on health, survey partnerships with media organizations, and most recently, the establishment of KHN.


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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.