Black lung disease surges to highs not seen since the '70s, research shows

By Chris Hamby

The likely culprit: a failure by coal mining companies to use readily available tools to control the dust that lodges in miners' lungs.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Kentucky":

"… y hard in a triangular region encompassing southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southwestern Virginia. In these areas, thick deposits of coal largely …"

Black lung claims by 1,100 coal miners may have been wrongly denied

By Chris Hamby

Black lung opinions by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins should be assumed to lack credibility, senators are told at a hearing.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Iowa":

"… ller and Joe Manchin, both of West Virginia, along with Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and U.S. Rep. George Miller of California. A bill might be ready before th …"

Home is where the money is for Medicare Advantage plans

By Fred Schulte

Medicare Advantage home visits may not improve health, but boost risk scores and cost taxpayers billions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Insurance":

"… ni, president of the industry’s powerful trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, in a March 7, 2014 letter to CMS argued that the agency had shown n …"

"… axpayers billions of dollars. A report commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans predicted in February that limiting home visits would shav …"

Health insurers have their way with regulators

By Fred Schulte

Billions in Medicare Advantage overpayments likely gone for good.

Excerpts from this story referencing "UnitedHealth Group":

"… ion of claims and diagnoses.” PacifiCare, a division of insurance titan UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest Medicare Advantage contractor, hotly disputed audi …"

"… l chart confirmed the operation, no care for blood poisoning was evident. UnitedHealth Group fired back in a September 2010 letter that HHS had “exceeded its authori …"

"… predictions, it still caught the industry’s attention. Both Humana and UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s two biggest Medicare Advantage plans, have told investors …"

Labor Department issues warning about Hopkins doctor's findings on black lung claims

The U.S. Department of Labor warned its officials to view with skepticism any X-ray readings by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Johns Hopkins":

"… Labor warned its officials to view with skepticism any X-ray readings by a Johns Hopkins University doctor who virtually never diagnoses black lung, a deadly disea …"

"… ast fall that Dr. Paul Wheeler, an associate professor of radiology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions often hired by coal companies to weigh miners’ clai …"

"… er found the most severe form of the disease among more than 1,500 claims. Johns Hopkins suspended its black lung X-ray reading program promptly after the story wa …"

"… ngs in black lung cases are suspect. “The CPI and ABC News reports, and Johns Hopkins’ investigation and suspension of its black lung reading program, are rel …"

Medicare Advantage made simple: a glossary

By Fred Schulte

Definitions for lesser-known terms relating to Medicare.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… e visits also can be profitable for the health plans when they uncover new diseases that raise a patient’s risk score— even if the health plan provides n …"

"… In other words, a health plan cannot just write down that a patient has a disease and seek extra payments from Medicare. The plan must also show that its do …"

"… ulation that would have banned home health assessments which uncovered new diseases but didn’t lead to any more treatment. Retrospective Chart Reviews:&nb …"

"… s” electronic patient medical files looking for evidence of unrecognized diseases that could boost risk scores and Medicare payments. CMS has proposed that …"

GAO report again finds black lung proposal supported by science

By Chris Hamby

A new government study supports reducing the dust limit workers encounter in mines; the industry is pushing back against stronger rules.

Excerpts from this story referencing "National Mining Association":

"… t level in 1995, but attempts to implement this change have faltered. The National Mining Association, a trade group, and many of the nation’s biggest coal companies have att …"

"… s week’s report. Rogers, who is up for re-election this year, counts the National Mining Association and other energy companies or trade groups among the donors to his campaig …"

Sri Lanka bans Monsanto herbicide citing potential link to deadly kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Sri Lanka orders ban on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, citing kidney disease outbreak; Monsanto said the evidence is unproven.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environment":

"… ally related to CKD," said Dr. Catharina Wesseling of the Program on Work, Environment and Health in Central America (SALTRA). "However, although beneficial for …"

A century of denial on black lung

By Chris Hamby

A congressman's words 44 years ago, citing the coal industry's efforts to limit its liability for black lung, resonate anew.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… a century ago and continues today. Despite widespread reports of a unique disease afflicting coal miners dating to the 19th Century, the industry and the do …"

"… til 1969. Much the same approach that hampered initial recognition of the disease has been used more recently to limit the range of illnesses that fall unde …"

"… the toxic mineral present in much rock in mines — was the sole cause of disease, making it almost impossible for most coal miners to prove their claims of …"

"… nd 1960s, when compelling evidence emerged that coal dust also could cause disease, the industry argued that only the most advanced form — complicated coal …"

Johns Hopkins medical unit rarely finds black lung, helping coal industry defeat miners' claims

By Chris Hamby, Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk

A surprising force has helped industry defeat black lung benefits claims for ailing miners: Johns Hopkins University.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pneumoconiosis":

"… panel hums to life, emanating a white glow in the dark corridor where the Pneumoconiosis Section, as the group of Johns Hopkins radiologists is known, does its wor …"

"… te? I don't think so.” After Morgan’s death, Wheeler took over the “Pneumoconiosis Section.” Asked if he viewed himself as the coal industry’s go-to radi …"

Money, research target mystery kidney disease in Americas

By Sasha Chavkin

Escalating a search for the cause of a mysterious kidney disease, health ministers from the Americas target money and research to CKD.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"…      …"

"… across the Americas passed a resolution last week formally recognizing the disease as a serious threat to public health. For more than two years, the Intern …"

"… f Investigative Journalists has examined how a rare type of chronic kidney disease is afflicting agricultural workers along Central America’s Pac …"

"… (PAHO) called on member states to conduct research and surveillance of the disease, and to strengthen their occupational and environmental health programs.&n …"

Countries target pesticides as suspected link to rare kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Governments from El Salvador to Sri Lanka explore the role of pesticides in a malady killing laborers, as other scientists eye heat stress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… In El Salvador, the congress approved a ban earlier this month on 53 agrochemicals. If the law is signed by Salvadorean president Mauricio Funes, the country …"

"… -------- The most sweeping measure contemplated so far: The ban on 53 agrochemicals approved on September 5 by El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly, including …"

"… 2-4,D, produced by Dow chemicals. The proposed law would prohibit various chemicals that have long been banned in most of the world, but also includes widely …"

"… , 2-4,D, paraquat and endosulfan. Salvadorean health officials believe agrochemicals containing toxic heavy metals are the primary cause of the disease. The m …"

New urgency targets mysterious kidney disease in Central America

By Sasha Chavkin

In El Salvador, health ministries formally recognize a kidney disease killing laborers — and vow deeper scrutiny of its causes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… stigate and treat the disease, and promotion of stronger regulation of agrochemicals. The declaration represented a major victory for El Salvador and its heal …"

"… hether there was adequate evidence to declare the disease is linked to agrochemicals and respond by restricting their use. At the conference, El Salvador pres …"

"… zation, documented elevated levels of cadmium and arsenic contained in agrochemicals and within environmental samples from the endemic region — and found the …"

"… h El Salvador and Sri Lanka’s reports, including evidence of how the agrochemicals are entering victims’ bodies or what products are at fault. Despite the …"

U.S. report urges deeper look into breast cancer's environmental links

By Jim Morris

A new federal report urges enhanced research into potential environmental triggers of breast cancer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "breast cancer":

"… eport makes a forceful case for more research into environmental causes of breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 227,000 women, killed 40,000 and cost more than $1 …"

"… ental Research Coordinating Committee, the report notes that most cases of breast cancer “occur in people with no family history,” suggesting that “environme …"

"… action of federal research funding has gone toward examining links between breast cancer and ubiquitous chemicals such as the plastic hardening agent bisphenol A; …"

"… he chemical-intensive industry were nearly five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in a control group. “That was essentially …"

In Sri Lanka, new steps target mysterious kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

In Sri Lanka, the president vows controls on chemicals potentially linked to chronic kidney disease, as hospitals take steps for patients.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… se tighter controls on pesticides and fertilizers amid growing concern the chemicals are helping fuel a mysterious epidemic of chronic kidney disease devastati …"

"… Mahinda Rajapaksa pledged to take action to crack down on contaminated agrochemicals.“There is a theory that pesticides and chemical fertilizer contribute to …"

"… ations will be formulated to require suppliers and distributors of all agrochemicals to comply with quality standards.”A committee of government ministers is …"

"… kera. Wijesekara, whose office oversees imports and permitting of agrochemicals, said Sri Lanka had already taken a significant step earlier this year: es …"

Pentagon spending for non-military programs assailed

By R. Jeffrey Smith

How exactly do defense officials spend $629 billion a year, anyhow?

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… n sense,” with no connection to national security.Coburn also noted that disease victims and medical specialists have pressured the Pentagon into spending …"

Study spotlights high breast cancer risk for plastics workers

By Jim Morris

Researchers cite breast cancer risks in Canadian plastic auto parts factories — with potential implications in the U.S. and beyond.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Toxic Substances Control Act":

"… 2 percent to undergo even basic testing. At the root of the problem is the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which puts the onus on the EPA to prove that a chemical is harmfu …"

IMPACT: Administration official asks for Medicare billing review

By Fred Schulte

Administration official wants to know if electronic health records are causing Medicare over-billing

Excerpts from this story referencing "Technology":

"… , the Obama administration’s National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said in an interview Monday afternoon that his policy-setting committee o …"

Top House Republicans demand suspension of electronic medical records program

By Fred Schulte

Top House Republicans want program suspended until government demands that systems communicate

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… le to mine data from millions of patients to discover better ways to treat disease and improve the nation’s overall health, which requires computers to lin …"

OPINION: Documentary captures what's wrong with U.S. health care

By Wendell Potter

Documentary 'Escape Fire' captures what's wrong with U.S. health care.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… d by a true story Dr. Don Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, tells to make the point that solutions to seemingly …"

Growth of electronic medical records eases path to inflated bills

By Fred Schulte

Billing software helps medical professionals document higher fees.

Excerpts from this story referencing "lobbyist":

"… ices that for years did not pay them enough. Robert Tennant, a Washington lobbyist with the Medical Group Management Association, which represents large medi …"

In India, verdant terrain conceals clues to a fatal kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

How a rare kidney disease is killing laborers and vexing researchers in three countries.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… ness tormenting the area. For more than a decade, a rash of chronic kidney disease has been striking down the villagers of this remote agricultural belt in t …"

"… cultural belt in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. In some villages, the disease has impacted from 24 to 37 percent of the population, two to three times h …"

"… e. This type of damage accounts for less than 4 percent of end-stage renal disease in the United States, and is consistent with severe dehydration and toxic …"

"… .Yet in other ways Uddanam is different. The research to date suggests the disease is confined to a single belt of villages that spans less than 100 miles. D …"

In Sri Lanka, breakthroughs, setbacks and a spiritual touch

By Sasha Chavkin and Anna Barry-Jester

How a rare kidney disease is killing laborers and vexing researchers in three countries.

Excerpts from this story referencing "hypertension":

"… ms are mostly male agricultural workers who do not suffer from diabetes or hypertension, the usual causes of the illness. The government and WHO call it CKDu: chr …"

As kidney disease kills thousands across continents, scientists scramble for answers

By Sasha Chavkin

How a rare kidney disease is killing laborers and vexing researchers in three countries.

Excerpts from this story referencing "World Bank":

"… e company’s pesticides and labor practices caused the disease. After the World Bank provided the Ingenio San Antonio with a $55 million loan in 2006, workers …"

GAO report supports science behind black lung rule

By Chris Hamby

Research supports proposal to reduce coal miners’ exposure to dust that causes deadly disease, a GAO report found.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… ia. A Center for Public Integrity-NPR investigation in July found that the disease has returned amid widespread cheating on required dust sampling by some mi …"

"… ied to stop the mine safety agency from updating its rules to address this disease. The GAO’s report shows that the latest line of attack was groundless an …"

"… f results you’d hope for with this approach,” she said.The increase in disease, the association contends, is confined to pockets of central Appalachia an …"

"… he rock surrounding coal seams that can cause a faster-progressing form of disease.The association has previously criticized some of the coal mine dust studi …"

Traceability elusive in global trade of human parts

By Kate Willson and Mar Cabra

The paper trail following human remains is not foolproof — in some cases, infected tissue can be impossible to track down.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… from bone, skin, tendon and other tissues taken from the dead could spread disease to the living — putting patients who receive tissue implants in den …"

GOP seeks to kill black lung reform

By Chris Hamby

House Republicans have inserted language in a budget bill that would kill a proposed rule to protect coal miners from deadly dust.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Mining":

"… opholes, and regulators have sometimes failed to enforce even these rules. Mining companies have taken advantage of a self-policing system to manipulate dus …"

"… Rogers responded immediately to requests for comment Tuesday.The National Mining Association said in a statement that it “sympathizes with the chairman …"

Black lung surges back in coal country

By Chris Hamby

Despite decades-old law, cheating, legal loopholes expose miners to deadly dust.

Excerpts from this story referencing "NPR":

"… few are blameless, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and NPR has found. The system for monitoring dust levels is tailor-made for cheati …"

"… g to our health,” he said. Donald’s experience echoed what Center and NPR reporters heard from retired miners throughout West Virginia, Kentucky and …"

"… etween 1980 and 2002, according to data provided by MSHA to the Center and NPR. The agency said it had no records of criminal convictions or guilty plea …"

"… nce 1980 have been used, according to MSHA data provided to the Center and NPR. Sometimes miners avoid screening because they just don’t want to know. …"

Dust reforms stymied by years of inaction

By Ken Ward Jr.

For more than a quarter-century, government efforts to end black lung have hit brick walls

Excerpts from this story referencing "Mine Safety and Health Administration":

"… ves."We can't get a regulation out to save our souls," said former federal Mine Safety and Health Administration staffer Celeste Monforton, who now studies workplace health issues and adv …"

"… e fewer samples, because of budget and staffing constraints at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Main urged MSHA to scrap the proposal and start over."We believe that MSH …"

Federal panel advises against prostate cancer screen for men

By Gordon Witkin

Panel says prostate cancer screen that was subject of Center probe does more harm than good.

Excerpts from this story referencing "cancer":

"… finalized its view that men should avoid a controversial test for prostate cancer that was the subject of a Center for Public Integrity investigation last f …"

"… e U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advised men against routine prostate cancer screening using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test because the …"

"… n every 3,000 would die prematurely from complications related to prostate cancer treatment. Prostate cancer is common, particularly in older men, and often …"

"… maturely from complications related to prostate cancer treatment. Prostate cancer is common, particularly in older men, and often cancers discovered through …"