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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.

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.

With Drug Reps Kept At Bay, Doctors Prescribe More Judiciously

A new study shows that doctors prescribed fewer marketed brand-name drugs when teaching hospitals restricted access to pharmaceutical sales representatives.

New Jersey Seeks to Sanction Psychologist for Disclosing Patients’ Diagnoses in Court Filings

Lawsuits filed on behalf of a psychologist and his practice had disclosed details of patients’ mental health diagnoses and treatments, including those of children. Psychologist Barry Helfmann denies wrongdoing.

Secret Hospital Inspections May Become Public At Last

The federal government has proposed requiring that accreditors release reports on the problems they find during hospital inspections. Right now, the reports are secret.

Heritage Foundation Alum Critical of Transgender Rights to Lead HHS Civil Rights Office

Roger Severino, the new head of the Office for Civil Rights within Health and Human Services, has opposed transgender patients’ rights, same-sex marriage and Planned Parenthood.

On Health Reform, Democrats and Republicans Don’t Speak the Same Language

We analyzed more than 575 press releases from representatives and senators about the Affordable Care Act and its repeal. Democrats, we found, speak more often and are more united.

We Fact-Checked Lawmakers’ Letters to Constituents on Health Care

They’re full of lies and misinformation.

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 ACA, beginning with a misleading missive by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt. Send us more!

How a Simple Fix to Reduce Aberrant Prescribing Became Not So Simple

In 2014, the government said health providers would have to enroll in Medicare in order to prescribe drugs to seniors and disabled beneficiaries. Delay after delay has pushed back the requirement until 2019. It’s been “much more challenging” than anticipated, an official concedes.

After Officials Sign Off, Cleveland Clinic Doctor Secretly Returns Home

Suha Abushamma had been forced to leave the United States after President Donald Trump’s travel ban. She sued, and high-level discussions led to her return yesterday.

Despite Judge’s Order, a Cleveland Clinic Doctor Still Can’t Come Back to U.S.

A federal judge’s order has allowed many people with visas to come to the U.S. But Dr. Suha Abushamma isn’t one of them. She was forced to give up her visa. And now she’s suing.

Cleveland Clinic Medical Trainee Sues to Come Back to U.S.

Dr. Suha Abushamma was denied entry to this country Saturday, hours after President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning visitors from seven countries.

Trump’s Travel Ban is Wreaking Havoc on Families, Especially Those With Valid Visas

The executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations is separating families who made every effort to follow U.S. immigration law.

Trump’s Executive Order Strands Brooklyn Doctor in Sudan

A second-year resident at Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn was blocked when he tried to board a flight back from Sudan. Now, he worries what will happen to his patients.

Hours After Landing in U.S., Cleveland Clinic Doctor Forced to Leave by Trump’s Order

Dr. Suha Abushamma’s flight back to Saudi Arabia took off minutes before a federal judge ordered such forced removals to stop. “She was basically racing against Trump,” a colleague and friend said.

Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic

The middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been hit recently with fines for their role in not calling out suspicious transactions. “They’re like the quarterback. They distribute the ball,” a former DEA supervisor said.

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