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ProPublica: Dialysis means life-saving care at great risk and cost

ProPublica has published another blockbuster piece of investigative health journalism:
“Dialysis:The High Costs and Hidden Perils of a Treatment Guaranteed to All.”

In an accompanying editor’s note, we learn a little bit about how much effort went into this project:

“For two years, ProPublica reporter Robin Fields prodded CMS officials to release this data under the Freedom of Information Act. Initially, she was told by the agency that the data was not in its “possession, custody and control.” After state officials denied similar requests for the data, saying it belonged to CMS, the agency agreed to reconsider. For more than a year after that, officials neither provided the data nor indicated whether they would.

Asked why the data hadn’t been released to the public, officials told Fields that some of it was disputed or crude — and that patients could easily misinterpret what it meant.

A few days ago, after the story we are publishing in December’s issue of The Atlantic magazine went to press, CMS agreed to release several years’ worth of the data. We plan to make it available on our website as soon as possible in a form that will allow patients to compare local dialysis centers.

ProPublica’s reporting on dialysis, which will continue in the coming weeks, may be useful as the new Congress takes up anew the question of how to control the cost and quality of health care.”

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