Extra Extra

Extra Extra Monday: Medicare prescribers, payday loans, swift deportations and secret consulting work

Medicare Drug Program Fails to Monitor Prescribers, Putting Seniors and Disabled at Risk | ProPublica and The Washington Post
"Prescription data obtained by ProPublica shows widespread use of antipsychotics, narcotics and other drugs dangerous for older adults, but Medicare officials say it's not their job to look for unsafe prescribing or weed out doctors with troubled backgrounds." Also published this weekend is a database of Medicare's prescription drug program.

Beyond Payday Loans | Marketplace and ProPublica
"A near billion dollar company, World Finance is the largest of an often-overlooked breed of high-cost lender: installment lenders. Ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, the loans typically last anywhere from six months to three years. The industry boasts millions of customers and over 4,000 locations across at least 19 states, mostly in the south and Midwest, and touts the product as a consumer-friendly alternative to payday loans. World and its competitors gouge borrowers with unnecessary insurance products and persuade their customers to renew their loans over and over again, creating a cycle of debt that often grinds on for years."

Hole in California law allows sex offenders to become addiction counselors | Center for Investigative Reporting
"There is nothing to prevent sex offenders and others with criminal records from becoming alcohol and drug counselors in California, even though such roles give them direct contact with people, including teens, at their most vulnerable.

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online. Did we miss something? Email suggestions to web@ire.org

Speedy removal | Chicago Reporter
"The government is bypassing judicial hearings in an attempt to swiftly deport thousands of immigrants each year."

How New Jersey Transit Failed Sandy's Test | WNYC
"On the weekend before Sandy thundered into New Jersey, transit officials studied a map showing bright green and orange blocks. On the map, the area where most New Jersey Transit trains were being stored showed up as orange – or dry. So keeping the trains in its centrally-located Meadows Maintenance Complex and the nearby Hoboken yards seemed prudent. And it might have been a good plan. Except the numbers New Jersey Transit used to create the map were wrong."

New program to curb hospital return visits may burden smaller ones in poorer areas | KPCC
"Eight California hospitals — including four in the Los Angeles area — are among the institutions paying the maximum fine under a new Medicare program designed to reduce high patient readmission rates... That worries some health-care experts nationally and in California who say that facilities serving low-income communities could be hit the hardest by the new program."

Payday lenders and the Harry Reid connectionThe Salt Lake Tribune
Payday lenders donate $126K to Senate majority leader, who denies having links to Utah scandal.

Finding Congress' frequent fliers | Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"As the nation hurtled from one fiscal crisis to the next last year, Democrats and Republicans argued bitterly over the best solution - tax increases or spending cuts. But members of the U.S. House did agree on one thing: There was enough money for them to travel the globe at taxpayers' expense."

Millions in taxpayer-funded consulting work kept secret | The Toronto Star
A Star investigation has found 90 per cent of the $2.4 billion paid out in the past decade comes with no description of the work done — and more than a dozen departments refuse to provide details when pressed.

Grandmother tried to alert DCS before baby died | The Tennessean
An East Tennessee grandmother said she tried in vain to get the Department of Children’s Services to intervene when she feared her newborn grandson was living in an unsafe environment.

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