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Charles Ornstein

Charles Ornstein

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Charles Ornstein is a senior reporter for ProPublica covering health care and the pharmaceutical industry.

In collaboration with Tracy Weber, Ornstein was a lead reporter on a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times titled "The Troubles at King/Drew" hospital that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in 2005. His ProPublica series, with Tracy Weber, "When Caregivers Harm: California's Unwatched Nurses" was a finalist for a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Ornstein reported for the Times starting in 2001, in the last five years largely in partnership with Weber. Earlier, Ornstein spent five years as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News. He is a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a former Kaiser Family Foundation media fellow.

Articles

One Drug. Two Prices. A Reporter Struggles to Find Out the Cost of His Son’s Prescription

$15 or $30? Health reporter Charles Ornstein is charged two different prices for the same drug. Which one is right? His effort to find out illustrates consumer frustrations with the health care system.

More Data to Be Withheld from Database of Physician Payments

The federal government won’t release data next month on some research payments to doctors. Health officials had acknowledged previously that the database wouldn’t include one-third of payments made by pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Government Will Withhold One-Third of the Records from Database of Physician Payments

Many payments to doctors made by pharmaceutical and medical device companies will not be included in the public release of the database next month. Federal officials cite data inconsistencies, say records will be posted next June.

Illinois Suspends Medical License of Leading Prescriber of Antipsychotic Drugs

For years, Dr. Michael Reinstein prescribed the powerful drug clozapine more than any other doctor in Medicare or Medicaid. His patterns were the subject of two ProPublica articles and he faces a federal civil lawsuit alleging health care fraud.

Suspicious Prescriptions for HIV Drugs Abound in Medicare

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds Medicare spent tens of millions of dollars in 2012 for HIV drugs there’s little evidence patients needed. A 77-year-old woman with no record of HIV got $33,500 of medication.

The Obscure Drug With a Growing Medicare Tab

Experts question the effectiveness of H.P. Acthar Gel, a drug made from pigs’ pituitary glands. Yet it cost Medicare more than $141 million in 2012, up from $7 million in 2008.

Top Acthar Prescribers in Medicare Have Ties to Its Maker

The top four prescribers of the drug were promotional speakers, researchers or consultants.

Glitch Prompts Temporary Shutdown of Pharma Payment Verification System

The government had to take offline its system for doctors to verify payments from drug companies after at least one doctor had payments attributed to him that actually went to someone else.

Are Patient Privacy Laws Being Misused to Protect Medical Centers?

A 1996 law known as HIPAA has been cited to scold a mom taking a picture of her son in a hospital, to keep information away from police investigating a possible rape at a nursing home, and to threaten VA whistleblowers.

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

New federal data, obtained by ProPublica under the Freedom of Information Act, shows nearly 1 million insurance transactions since mid-April.

Error: You Have No Payments from Pharma

Doctors checking a soon-to-be-unveiled federal website that will publicly list drug company payments are encountering error messages if they have not accepted industry money.

Why Are Obstetricians Among the Top Billers for Group Psychotherapy in Illinois?

Illinois leads the country in group psychotherapy sessions in Medicare, and some top billers aren’t mental health specialists. The state’s Medicaid program has cracked down, but federal officials have not.

Fanny Pack Mixup Unravels Massive Medicare Fraud Scheme

Two secretaries in a doctor’s office have pleaded guilty and a pharmacy owner faces charges in a scam that Medicare allowed to thrive for more than two years.

Medicare Billing Outliers Often Have Disciplinary Problems, Too

As news organizations analyze data on Medicare payments, doctors with disciplinary records keep popping up.

Medicare Taken For a Ride By Ambulance Companies in New Jersey

The Garden State costs Medicare more than any other state for ambulance rides per kidney dialysis patient. A new crackdown is set to start, but at one big dialysis center, ambulances remain everywhere.

Medicare Overpays Billions for Office Visits, Patient Evaluations

The findings by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services complement a recent ProPublica review that found many doctors bill for services very differently than their peers.

Following Abuses, Medicare Tightens Reins on Its Drug Program

Medicare gives itself the power to ban physicians if they prescribe medications in abusive ways. The action follows a series of articles by ProPublica documenting inappropriate prescribing, waste and fraud in its popular drug program.

How We Analyzed Medicare Part B Data

We found some doctors who billed for the most costly, most complex visits almost exclusively and charged top rates far more than their peers.

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Charles Ornstein

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