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Charles Ornstein

Senior Reporter

Photo of Charles Ornstein

Charles Ornstein is a senior reporter for ProPublica covering health care and the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining ProPublica in 2008, he was a member of the metro investigative projects team at the Los Angeles Times. In 2004, he and Tracy Weber were lead authors on a series on Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, a troubled hospital in South Los Angeles. The articles won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service.

In 2009, he and Weber worked on a series of stories that detailed serious failures in oversight by the California Board of Registered Nursing and nursing boards around the country. The work was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

He previously worked at the Dallas Morning News, where he covered health care on the business desk and worked in the Washington bureau. Ornstein is a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and an adjunct journalism professor at Columbia University. Ornstein is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Attorneys General in 37 States Urge Insurance Industry to Do More to Curb Opioid Epidemic

They want insurers to re-examine coverage policies that, as ProPublica and The New York Times reported Sunday, may be driving patients toward addictive painkillers.

Why Are Drug Prices So High? We’re Curious, Too.

The New York Times and ProPublica have teamed up to investigate who is to blame for skyrocketing drug prices — and have turned up some surprising answers.

Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers

Drug companies and doctors have been accused of fueling the opioid crisis, but some question whether insurers have played a role, too.

Risky, Overused Medications Prescribed Far Less Often in the Aloha State

Medicare patients in Hawaii take fewer opioid painkillers and fewer antibiotics, on average, than those in any other state. Physicians and health policy experts cite demographics and healthier lifestyles as possible reasons why.

We’ve Updated Prescriber Checkup

Medicare’s popular prescription-drug program serves more than 42 million people and pays for more than one of every four prescriptions written nationwide. Use this tool to find and compare doctors and other providers in Part D in 2015.

Generic Drug Prices Are Declining, But Many Consumers Aren’t Benefiting

Outcry has been building over the rising cost of brand-name medications, but the price of generic drugs has been moving in the opposite direction. The stock prices of generic manufacturers have tumbled, but many consumers aren’t paying less at the pharmacy counter.

Take the Generic Drug, Patients Are Told — Unless Insurers Say No

Faced with competition, some pharmaceutical companies are cutting deals with insurance companies to favor their brand-name products over cheaper generics. Insurers pay less, but sometimes consumers pay more.

Accreditors Can Keep Their Hospital Inspection Reports Secret, Feds Decide

Reversing course, federal health officials withdrew a proposal that would have required private accrediting organizations to publicly release reports of problems they found in health care facilities. Accreditors and hospitals had panned the idea; consumer advocates and business groups supported it.

McCain’s Brain Cancer Draws Renewed Attention to Possible Agent Orange Connection

For years, Vietnam vets and their widows have been pushing the VA to extend benefits to those exposed to the toxic herbicide and later stricken with glioblastoma. The VA has said no, but advocates hope the agency will now revisit the issue.

‘Extreme’ Use of Painkillers and Doctor Shopping Plague Medicare, New Report Says

Some Medicare beneficiaries are being prescribed opioids by 10 or more doctors, or are filling prescriptions for more than 1,000 pills a month. Hundreds of doctors appear to be prescribing indiscriminately, says the inspector general of Health and Human Services.

Drugmakers’ Money-Back Guarantees: an Answer to Rising Prices or a ‘Carnival Game’

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly agreeing to refund money if patients don't respond to medications as expected. The Trump administration is intrigued, but critics say the deals are unlikely to reduce consumers’ bills.

The Medicaid Threat That Isn’t Getting Much Attention

As Republicans in Congress work to roll back the Affordable Care Act, they and some states are proposing major changes to the Medicaid program. Researchers say these changes would cost millions their health coverage.

Medicare Halts Release of Much-Anticipated Data

The government had planned to share data with researchers on patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage health plans. Then, suddenly, it didn’t.

Nursing Home Workers Still Posting Nude and Vulgar Photos of Residents on Snapchat

Federal and state officials have increased their focus on the problem, but ProPublica found 18 incidents in the last year in which employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities posted unauthorized photos and videos of residents on social media platforms.

Inappropriate Social Media Posts by Nursing Home Workers, Detailed

Below are details of 65 incidents since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers shared photos or videos of residents on social media networks. The details come from government inspection reports, court cases and media reports.

Veterans Affairs Official Downplays Agent Orange Risks, Questions Critics

At a meeting in March, a lead analyst in the VA’s compensation service was critical of the media, scientists and the VA’s own administrative tribunal for taking positions that differ from his. The VA said his comments “did not fully or accurately reflect VA's position” but also said his quotes were being taken out of context.

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.

A Drug Quintupled in Price. Now, Drug Industry Players Are Feuding Over the Windfall.

Amid public concern over spiking drug prices, a powerful middleman is suing a tiny drugmaker over unpaid rebates and fees. The maker calls the suit baseless; analysts say the suit offers a window into an opaque world.

Three Strategies to Defend GOP Health Bill: Euphemisms, False Statements and Deleted Comments

Since the passage of the American Health Care Act, Republican members of Congress have tried to swing public opinion to their side. ProPublica has been tracking what they’re saying.

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