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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

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. Adderall XR, a drug to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a case in point.

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

Here 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

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.
Charles Ornstein

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