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Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Charles Ornstein

Veterans Affairs Official Downplays Agent Orange Risks, Questions Critics

“From my point of view, I will do anything to help veterans, any legitimate veteran, and I’ve done it plenty of times,” he told the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, a group that advises the VA. “Unfortunately when it comes to this Agent Orange, we have to have a lot of denials.”

June 12, 2017
Trump Twitter

Trump’s Not The Only One Blocking Constituents On Twitter

As elected officials increasingly turn to social media to communicate with constituents, some are blocking those who disagree with them. Some say it violates the First Amendment. Legislators say it’s about promoting a “healthy, civil dialogue.” Expect court battles ahead.

June 8, 2017
GOP health bill

Three Strategies To Defend GOP Health Bill: Euphemisms, False Statements And Deleted Comments

Earlier this month, a day after the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, Ashleigh Morley visited her congressman’s Facebook page to voice her dismay.

May 26, 2017

With Drug Reps Kept At Bay, Doctors Prescribe More Judiciously

When teaching hospitals put pharmaceutical sales representatives on a shorter leash, their doctors tended to order fewer promoted brand-name drugs and used more generic versions instead, a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows.

May 3, 2017

Secret Hospital Inspections May Become Public At Last

The public could soon get a look at confidential reports about errors, mishaps and mix-ups in the nation’s hospitals that put patients’ health and safety at risk, under a groundbreaking proposal from federal health officials. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants to require that private health care accreditors publicly detail problems they find during inspections of hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as the steps being taken to fix them.

April 19, 2017

On Health Reform, Democrats And Republicans Don’t Speak The Same Language

Though Republicans control both houses of Congress, many have stayed silent, at least on their websites. Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, put out a press release last week about a study of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, but nothing on health care. (You can see all of the statements in ProPublica’s Represent news app, which tracks votes and statements by members of Congress.)

Among members of the House, where the action is now focused, about 46 percent of Republicans have issued statements about health care reform from the start of the Trump administration to this week. Among Democrats, 67 percent.

March 23, 2017

We Fact-Checked Lawmakers’ Letters To Constituents On Health Care

As the debate to repeal the law heats up in Congress, constituents are flooding their representatives with notes of support or concern, and the lawmakers are responding, sometimes with form letters that are misleading. A review of more than 200 such letters by ProPublica and its partners at Kaiser Health News, Stat and Vox, found dozens of errors and mischaracterizations about the ACA and its proposed replacement. The legislators have cited wrong statistics, conflated health care terms and made statements that don’t stand up to verification.

March 22, 2017

Fact-Checking Elected Officials On The Affordable Care Act Repeal

ProPublica is working with other news organizations to collect and analyze letters and emails from elected officials to constituents on the Affordable Care Act, beginning with a misleading missive by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

March 10, 2017
Doctor, Muslim Ban

Hours After Landing In New York, Doctor Forced To Leave U.S. By Trump’s Order

Abushamma was forced to make a choice by Customs and Border Protection agents: She could leave the country voluntarily and withdraw her visa — or she could be forcibly deported, which would have prevented her from coming back to the U.S. for at least five years. The latter also would have resulted in a permanent black mark on her immigration record.

January 30, 2017
Obamacare sign up explodes after Trump elected

Even After Open Enrollment, Activity Remains Unexpectedly High On Federal Health Insurance Exchange

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica This story was co-published with NPR’s “Shots” blog. For months, journalists and politicians fixated on the number of people signing up for health insurance through the federal exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. It turned out that more than 5 million people signed up using by April […]

July 24, 2014

Medicare Overpays Billions For Office Visits, Patient Evaluations

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much for office visits and other patient evaluations in 2010, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But in its reply to the findings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, said […]

May 29, 2014
Obamacare sign up explodes after Trump elected

Medicaid Programs Drowning In Backlog

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Last week, federal health officials celebrated two milestones related to the Affordable Care Act. The first, which got considerable attention, was that more than 7 million people selected private health plans in state and federal health insurance exchanges. The second, which got less attention, was that some 3 million additional enrollees […]

April 9, 2014

Judging Obamacare: How Do We Know If It’s A Success Or Failure?

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. One day very soon, the focus on Obamacare will turn from signing up new enrollees to quantifying the law’s success — or failure. The six-month open enrollment period, during which consumers sign up for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, is supposed to end today. But the U.S. Department of […]

March 31, 2014

Epic Fail: Where Four State Health Exchanges Went Wrong

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Much has been written (and will continue to be written) about the spectacular failure of health insurance exchanges in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maryland — all blue states that support the Affordable Care Act. All were woefully unprepared for their Oct. 1 launch, and unlike, the federal marketplace, they are […]

February 6, 2014
Obamacare, Republicans

Obamacare: A Midterm Report Card

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. The first half of the Obamacare open enrollment period is over, and yesterday, federal health officials announced signup figures from the first three months. After a disastrous start, (which handles enrollment for 36 states) began functioning properly. It, along with state-run insurance exchanges, netted more than 2.1 million signups between […]

January 14, 2014

Deadline? What Deadline? The Obamacare Signup Dates Keep Moving

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. You aren’t alone if you’re confused about the deadline to sign up for coverage on the health insurance marketplaces. The deadline is — and has been — in flux. When the process began in October, consumers using, the federal marketplace for 36 states, had until Dec. 15 to pick a […]

December 19, 2013

Turning the Corner? In California, At Least, Obamacare Signups Zoom

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. The statistics released yesterday from Covered California could bode well for health insurance exchanges that have their act together. Although the California exchange enrolled 109,000 in October and November combined, the tally from the first seven days in December — 49,708 — is nearly three times the pace from a month earlier. Even […]

December 13, 2013

‘Please Wait’: New-And-Improved Has Same Old Problems

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. After a glowing news conference yesterday citing “night and day” progress on, I decided to log in this morning and take the website for a test drive, as I’m sure many others are doing. Early reports had been promising. What I found was hardly encouraging — long delays on loading […]

December 2, 2013

Q&A: How California’s Insurance Enrollments Beat

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. There’s good news flowing from the Golden State — and Peter Lee has a lot to do with it. Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, signed up more people in October than, the federal website handling enrollment for 36 states. During that month, 30,830 people enrolled in Covered California. By comparison, in […]

November 20, 2013

Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock, Part Two

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Media reports about the Affordable Care Act have been dominated by two themes lately: The ongoing glitches with and the “rate shock” that some consumers now face after insurance companies canceled their policies. But come January, a second rate shock may hit and could produce more bad news for Obamacare. That’s when […]

November 12, 2013

Obamacare Q&A: ‘I Don’t Really Think You Could Stop This Law’

by Charles Ornstein ProPublica. Less than a month after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, he nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to lead its implementation as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Months later, when Congress failed to act on the nomination, the president used a recess appointment to install […]

November 11, 2013

Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools

A map of states with high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions that deem them medically uninsurable. Similar federally funded plans under the Affordable Care Act may not be shown here. (Source: National Association of State Comprehensive Insurance Plans) by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. “This is what keeps me up at night,” Tanya Case told me […]

November 8, 2013

A Month Into, Real-Life Winners And Losers

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Today marks one month since the disastrous start of, the seriously impaired federal health insurance marketplace. And what a month it’s been. For the first 16 days, a federal government shutdown largely deflected attention from the website’s problems. But since then, three congressional hearings have been held — and more […]

November 1, 2013

The Affordable Care Act’s Most Important Date: Not What You Think

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Many people have asked when we’ll know if the Affordable Care Act is a success or failure. Was it October 1, the date of the federal health insurance marketplace’s problem-filled launch? Or will it be the end of November, when is supposed to be fixed? Is it December 15, the last […]

October 29, 2013’s Users Speak Out: ‘Clean This Mess Up’

by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica. Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began unveiling its effort to fix, the home for the federal insurance marketplace. Part of that was a blog post soliciting comments from folks who have tried the site. “Most importantly, we want to hear from you, and make sure […]

October 24, 2013