2012 Philip Meyer Award winners
These awards were presented at the 2013 CAR Conference in Louisville.
The contest, for work published or broadcasted between October 2011 and October 2012, attracted entries from across the country. Stories are available to IRE members through the IRE Resource Center. Click on a story link below or contact us at 573-882-3364 or email@example.com.
"Cracking the Codes" The Center for Public Integrity
Staff: Fred Schulte, Joe Eaton, David Donald, Gordon Witkin and Elizabeth Lucas
CPI’s “Cracking the Codes” uncovered the vast scale of Medicare billing errors and abuses that have padded the incomes of thousands of medical professionals to the tune of more than $11 billion over the past decade. Reporters Fred Schulte and Joe Eaton, working with project editor Gordon Witkin and database editor David Donald, analyzed 133 million Medicare records to demonstrate how so-called “upcoding” of diagnoses and procedures was steadily increasing Medicare payouts over the years. A key part of the analysis involved plotting the distribution curves of payment codes year by year, controlling for patients’ age and condition, thereby showing how use of more expensive codes was steadily increasing.
"Methadone and the Politics of Pain" The Seattle Times
Staff: Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong
Seattle’s “Methadone and the Politics of Pain” exposed how patients of Washington’s state-subsidized Medicaid system were being steered to use the narcotic methadone as a painkiller because it is cheaper than safer alternatives – even after more than 2,100 patients had fatally overdosed during the past decade. More so, Medicaid recipients account for about 8% of Washington's adult population but 48% of the methadone deaths. Reporters Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong analyzed death certificates, physicians’ text notes, thousands of hospital records, drug consumption databases and other records to document how the state’s poorest patients were being hurt the most by this cost-cutting policy.
"Shades of Mercy: Presidential Pardons" ProPublica
Staff: Dafna Linzer, Jennifer LaFleur, Krista Kjellman Schmidt and Liz Day
ProPublica’s “Shades of Mercy – Presidential Pardons” project put a bright spotlight on the opaque and under-covered support system by which presidents decide which applicants are granted pardons for their crimes. Reporter Dafna Linzer, data director Jennifer LaFleur and news applications editor Krista Kjellman-Schmidt revealed how race and privilege trumped justice in the granting of pardons. They used sophisticated statistical models to show that white applicants were more than four times as likely to get clemency than were black applicants, even after controlling for the type of crime and sentence.