Health worries pervade North Texas fracking zone

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Some residents of the heavily fracked Barnett Shale in North Texas blame their health problems on toxic oil and gas emissions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry":

"… sures for short periods of time,” said Brown, an official at the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in the 1990s. “And so a person can get a tremendous dose in an afternoon …"

Health insurers have their way with regulators

By Fred Schulte

Billions in Medicare Advantage overpayments likely gone for good.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Cigna":

"… d they can lose money when risk-based payments don’t cover their costs. Cigna Healthcare of Arizona, for example, disputed the audit finding that it was …"

"… an $23 million for 2007. Calling the audit standards “fatally flawed,” Cigna said it actually lost about $800,000 that year treating the 100 patients w …"

Persistent black lung, old scourge of coal, found in autopsies of most Massey miners

By Chris Hamby

Persistent black lung, scourge of coal, found in autopsies of Massey miners

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… cording to estimates of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal research agency.The high rate of disease detected in the bodies …"

"… e rise, affecting younger miners in many cases.The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration recently proposed a rule intended to protect miners from du …"

"… years ago, Congress sought to end black lung as part of the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. It set standards for the amount of coal dust to which mine …"

During Mitch Daniels’ decade at Eli Lilly, the drug giant paid billions in fines and settled thousands of lawsuits

By Joanne Kenen and Rochelle Sharpe

Eli Lilly paid billions in fines, settled thousands of lawsuits while Daniels was an executive at the drug giant

Excerpts from this story referencing "Eli Lilly and Company":

"… s,” it says. “His work as CEO of the Hudson Institute and president of Eli Lilly and Company's North American Pharmaceutical Operations taught him the business skills …"

Congressman takes swipe at program to reduce Medicare fraud

By Naseem Miller and Joe Eaton

As health reform bills consume Congress, a battle over a program designed to help cut soaring rates of Medicare overpayment and fraud is pla

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… roduced five weeks ago.The squabble is occurring just as the Department of Health and Human Services is reporting — according to the Associated Press — …"

"… ,” said Gerry Roy, the assistant inspector general for investigations at Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. Roy said organized crim …"

"… pokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a branch of Health and Human Services, said he is not aware of any counties that were left wi …"

"… the bidding delay back then was President George W. Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services at the time, Michael Leavitt. “If Congress fails to u …"

Obama's EPA breaks pledge to divorce politics from science on toxic chemicals

By David Heath

To the delight of industry, the EPA is completing fewer chemical assessments than ever before.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environmental Protection Agency":

"… sound arcane as a presidential priority, but it was a big deal at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Political interference from the Bush White House had delayed or derailed …"

Selling out for big business: business as usual on Capitol Hill

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: upcoming Obamacare bills benefit corporations, not regular folks.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Senate":

"…  won’t go anywhere because there are still enough Democrats in the Senate to block it.  But the bills to assist businesses—especially those t …"

Health care findings you may have missed in 2014

By The Center for Public Integrity

$70 billion in "improper" Medicare Advantage payments and the problem shared by 80 percent of nursing homes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ons. Keep reading …"

"… ar. If you weren't aware, you might have missed $70 billion in "improper" Medicare Advantage payments and the problem shared by 80 percent of all nursing hom …"

"…   1. $70 billion in 'improper' payments A Center investigation into Medicare Advantage uncovered how $70 billion in "improper" payments have been made …"

"… vantage uncovered how $70 billion in "improper" payments have been made to Medicare Advantage plans from 2008 to 2013. Most of these improper payments can be …"

Good news on health care in 2014, but we're still spending too much

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: fewer uninsured, but debt, mental health coverage and dental care are on the agenda for 2015.

Excerpts from this story referencing "White House":

"… year. There is plenty of reason to celebrate and, as you can imagine, the White House wants us to believe that we can thank the Affordable Care Act for all the …"

"… 4 percent in 2013 to 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2014.  The White House Council of Economic Advisors says that’s the largest drop in at least fo …"

One-stop science shop has become a favorite of industry—and Texas

By Rosalind Adams and Lisa Song

The EPA's sluggishness in assessing chemicals has created opportunities for a consulting firm with ties to chemical and tobacco interests.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Chemistry Council":

"… y since some of the groups that have paid for ITER reviews—including the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association —have also supported I …"

"… and trade groups, including Dow AgroSciences, Proctor & Gamble and the American Chemistry Council. Tracey Woodruff, a former EPA scientist who is now a professor at the Un …"

Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines, opens door for polluters

By Lisa Song and Rosalind Adams

Amid a fracking boom, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has quietly weakened air pollution guidelines for toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Chemistry Council":

"… About 80 percent of the comments came from industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council and ExxonMobil. Adam Finkel, executive director of the University of Penn …"

High-stakes health care battle in the Green Mountain state

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: fate of Vermont single-payer initiative may depend on financing plan.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… insurance industry’s biggest opportunity to derail the state’s plans. Health insurers have reason to be concerned. Even though Vermont has just 627,000 …"

"… ide their involvement. We probably would never have known that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s main trade group, funneled more than $10 …"

"… er their strategy, Shumlin last year formed a Business Advisory Council on Health Care Financing. The 21-member council “provides the governor with advice …"

"… chter, president of the nonprofit single-payer advocacy group Vermont Health Care for All, told me. “People need to be reminded that we will pay for …"

Don't wait 'til last minute to enroll in Obamacare

By Wendell Potter

Not all health insurance plans are created equal. Shoppers should get to work now on finding the right policy.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… in: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans and Obamacare: What’s in It for M …"

Exploding the myths about American health care

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: new film takes on 'world's best' medical system.

Excerpts from this story referencing "America":

"… n’t agree with Romney and Obama health care advisor Jonathan Gruber that Americans are stupid, but there is abundant evidence that we’re incredibly gulli …"

"… truth: that when it comes to access to affordable health care, millions of Americans might as well be living in a third world country. And that’s still tru …"

"… ars ago to fly doctors to remote villages along the Amazon. “Welcome to America,” Brock says early in the film as thousands of people wait patiently in …"

"… is medical “expeditions,” as he calls them, were to countries in South America, Africa and the Caribbean. While Remote Area Medical (RAM) still conducts …"

Court case pushed by think tank could leave uninsured out in the cold

By Wendell Potter

Supreme Court case backed by think tank hinges on single sentence in Affordable Care Act.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Washington":

"… what the cost, so be it, say the folks at a libertarian influence shop in Washington. When the high court announced earlier this month that it would decide a …"

"… heir health insurance, it was time for high-fives at the Cato Institute in Washington. Cato’s director of health policy studies, Michael Cannon, has argued f …"

Nursing homes serving minorities offering less care than those housing whites

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Nursing homes serving blacks, Latinos provide less daily registered nurse care than those housing whites.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… the annual quality survey. The Center’s probe found that hard-to-locate Medicare cost reports filed by nursing homes show lower daily staffing levels, espe …"

"… n those reflected in Nursing Home Compare. In 2005 the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited Medicaid cost reports that contain much of the …"

"… ted Medicaid cost reports that contain much of the same information as the Medicare documents as being a more accurate source than the data collected by state …"

"… level of registered nurse care at those facilities calculated through the Medicare cost reports was just about 20 minutes a day. Medicare cost data was not a …"

Obama administration let opponents define the Affordable Care Act

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: Obama administration let foes define Affordable Care Act.

Excerpts from this story referencing "White House":

"… eds to Know About the Affordable Care Act. …"

"… that was really, really critical to getting this thing passed … ” The White House hired Gruber in 2009 to help figure out the economic consequences of vario …"

"… bsence of a communications strategy that I even went so far as to call the White House in the summer of 2009 to offer some unsolicited ideas. I was thanked for m …"

"… re security and more stability.” I was encouraged because I thought the White House and Congressional reform advocates had once again realized what Americans …"

Analysis shows widespread discrepancies in staffing levels reported by nursing homes

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Analysis shows staffing levels lower than what's reported on public website.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… say, those staffing levels may be artificially inflated. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for overseeing …"

"… ident population during the year. Similar cost reports made to the federal Medicare program were analyzed by the Center; those reports showed daily staffing l …"

"… s about once each year to determine whether its nursing homes meet minimum Medicare and Medicaid quality and performance standards. Opinion is divided about t …"

Methodology for our nursing homes investigation

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein and Ben Wieder

Center compared self-reported staffing numbers with Medicare data

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… nursing home staffing, the Center for Public Integrity downloaded the 2012 Medicare cost reports for skilled nursing facilities. The Center extracted data abo …"

"… of The Gerontologist. The Center used data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to calculate the number of standard survey inspectio …"

Running a five-star nursing home

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Top-rated homes had more nurses, less turnover

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… site Nursing Home Compare than the average daily levels calculated through Medicare cost reports that are largely out of public view. In 2005 the Centers for …"

"… cost reports that are largely out of public view. In 2005 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for nursing home oversight, …"

"… id the Medicaid cost reports that have much of the same information as the Medicare documents are generally more accurate than the self-reported data found on …"

Health insurers win midterm election!

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: midterm results create a friendlier Congress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Senate":

"… ithin 24 hours of knowing that Mitch McConnell would replace Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader, investors were active buyers of health insurance stock. I …"

"… control of that chamber four years ago. But there’s almost no chance the Senate version will match the House’s action. Republicans still won’t have th …"

More scrutiny coming for Medicare Advantage, Obamacare

By Fred Schulte

New round of audits coming; Obamacare too.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ending on managed health care in the new fiscal year, ranging from private Medicare Advantage groups that treat millions of elderly to health plans rapidly ex …"

"… Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, which investigates Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse, said it would conduct “various revi …"

"… aid waste, fraud and abuse, said it would conduct “various reviews” of Medicare Advantage billing practices with an eye toward curbing overcharges. Result …"

"… lent sign ups. The Inspector General’s office did not say if individual Medicare Advantage plans would be audited, but indicated it would focus on concerns …"

Insurers spending cash, spreading fear in high-stakes California showdown

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: insurers have the cash to spread fear, confusion

Excerpts from this story referencing "Maine":

"… rate hike proposals — because they usually lose. In 2011, for example, Maine’s commissioner, Mila Kofman, concluded that Anthem Health Plans of Maine …"

"… Maine’s commissioner, Mila Kofman, concluded that Anthem Health Plans of Maine’s proposed rate increase of 9.7 percent was excessive. She ruled that An …"

"… fornia is part of the same for-profit company that owns the Anthem plan in Maine. If a majority of Californians vote no, as insurers hope they will, the pr …"

Another whistleblower suit alleges Medicare Advantage fraud

By Fred Schulte

California litigation alleges 'house calls" yielded false claims

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… m of diagnosing “false and fraudulent” medical conditions that several Medicare Advantage plans allegedly used to overcharge the federal government by $1 …"

"… nta Ana, California-based firm sends medical professionals to the homes of Medicare Advantage members to assess their health. Silingo claims she was fired la …"

"… fornia, was unsealed by a judge late last month. The suit also names four Medicare Advantage insurance plans which, Silingo alleges, “turned a blind eye” …"

"… s lawsuit is likely to draw further attention to government oversight of Medicare Advantage plans. The health plans, an alternative to standard Medicare, ar …"

GAO takes on Medicare Advantage spending

By Fred Schulte

GAO will investigate program spending.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… legations. …"

"… are due next spring. GAO auditors will target efforts by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which runs the senior care program, to ensure …"

"… are paid accurately and that any overpayments are recovered for taxpayers. Medicare Advantage is an alternative to standard Medicare and is mostly run by priv …"

"… recovered for taxpayers. Medicare Advantage is an alternative to standard Medicare and is mostly run by private insurance carriers. “Right now everything …"

Comparison shopping for a health plan

By Wendell Potter

California makes it easy to do your homework.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… om a private insurer unless we’re eligible for a government program like Medicare or Medicaid — you’d think it would be easy to discover which health pl …"

A call for more scrutiny of private Medicare Advantage plans

By Fred Schulte

Researchers say aggressive billing by private plans may require more scrutiny

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… s need to do a better job ferreting out billing errors and overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans — mistakes which are estimated to cost taxpayers billion …"

"… xpayers billions of dollars every year, a top government researcher says. Medicare pays the privately-run Advantage health insurance plans, which cover more …"

"… n criticized for allegedly overstating how sick some patients are to boost Medicare revenue, a practice known as “upcoding.” Researcher Richard Kronick, …"

"… that seem to diagnose much higher-than-expected rates of patient illness. Medicare Advantage plans that have been “significantly more aggressive than avera …"

California coverage plan for undocumented echoes earlier call by Schwarzenegger

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: former governor supported plan allowing coverage for undocumented residents.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Massachusetts":

"… he proposed a plan in January 2007 that was similar to the one enacted in Massachusetts under then-Governor Mitt Romney. Schwarzenegger’s plan had one notable d …"

"… e’s 2.6 million undocumented residents — to have health insurance (The Massachusetts law does allow the undocumented to receive state-funded care through the H …"

How a coal miner's autopsy proved a top doctor wrong

By Chris Hamby

When a coal miner's lungs finally gave out, his autopsy proved a top doctor was wrong — giving hope to thousands of other miners.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicine":

"… onary and critical care Medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and, before that, ran the X-ray-reading program at the National Institute …"

Obamacare helps millions, but falls short in many ways

By Wendell Potter

The Affordable Care Act has reduced the ranks of the uninsured, but cost of care must be addressed.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ung people for the exact same policy. The law also benefits seniors on Medicare by closing the donut hole in the prescription drug benefit and by covering …"

"… nd by covering preventive care, including screenings, and it is saving the Medicare program billions of dollars by gradually reducing the extra amounts the go …"

"… unts the government has been paying private insurers to participate in the Medicare Advantage program. All that said, the law falls short in many ways. While …"

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