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Charles Ornstein

Senior Editor

Photo of Charles Ornstein

Charles Ornstein is a senior editor at ProPublica, overseeing the Local Reporting Network. From 2008 to 2017, he was a senior reporter covering health care and the pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to joining ProPublica, 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.

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.

Pharma Money Reaches Guideline Writers, Patient Groups, Even Doctors on Twitter

A series of studies published today documents the vast conflicts of interest in medicine. The way we think about disease “is being subtly distorted” by financial ties, the authors of an editorial write.

Rethinking The Cost of War

What if casualties don’t end on the battlefield, but extend to future generations? Our reporting this year suggests the government may not want to know the answer

The Agent Orange Widows Club

After their husbands died of an aggressive brain cancer, the widows of Vietnam veterans have found one another as they fight the VA for benefits.

Long List of Agent Orange Decisions Awaits VA in 2017

The Department of Veterans Affairs must decide whether to add new diseases to its list of conditions presumed to be linked to Agent Orange. It also faces calls to compensate naval veterans and those who served along the Korean demilitarized zone.

ProPublica Files Lawsuit Seeking Agent Orange Documents From the VA

The suit claims the VA failed to promptly process a FOIA request for correspondence with a consultant about the defoliant used during the Vietnam War.

The Children of Agent Orange

For decades, Vietnam veterans have suspected that the defoliant harmed their children. But the VA hasn’t studied its own data for clues. A new ProPublica analysis has found that the odds of having a child born with birth defects were more than a third higher for veterans exposed to Agent Orange than for those who weren’t.

A Public Official’s Private Pain

A Washington legislator had two children after her husband returned from the Vietnam War. One lacks sight in an eye. The other died of cardiomyopathy at age 21. “We don’t have this in the family,” she said. “The veterans would all say, ‘You know it’s probably Agent Orange.’”

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