Health Care

May 13, 2011

News Release
Planned Parenthood of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) will cover the costs of care to its Medicaid patients around the state through at least Saturday, May 21. There will be some limitations, including no new Medicaid-eligible patients will be taken, and some services will be scheduled later to give the court time to issue a ruling on the injunction being sought by PPIN.

The extension is possible due to the extraordinary outpouring of support from donors across the country. PPIN will monitor as gifts continue to come in the door and hopes to be able to extend services beyond May 21.

MacNeil's 'Autism Now' honest, enlightened, public-interest journalism

April 30, 2011

After an involuntary hiatus, it's always invigorating to re-engage with the "real work" (Beat poet Gary Snyder's words), especially when the initial reconnect is celebratory in nature. Especially when the celebration involves an institution at the heart of the mission, in this case journalism.

And so, with a bow to journalist Robert MacNeil, I begin this summer's phase of my investigation into the twin epidemics of autism and developmental disabilities. His investigative report Autism Now, which aired on the PBS NewsHour in April, reacquainted me with the issues I'm exploring in the Ohio River Valley, where the rain is toxic and data show the kids just aren't quite right, developmentally speaking. Three years' into this project, I've not found a more honest or enlightened media report.

April 29, 2011

"Justice delayed is justice denied." -- William E. Gladstone, British statesman and prime minister, 1809-1898


About 1 million women, according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition (, work in industries that expose them to more than 50 carcinogens linked to breast cancer.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In a large number of cases, cancer is preventable. This fact applies especially to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals in the workplace.

“At least one in every 10 cancers – and probably many more – is the result of preventable, predictable workplace exposures,” according to Occupational Cancer/Zero Cancer: Union Guide to Prevention.

April 20, 2011

News Release
Planned Parenthood of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS - Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) and its network of supporters are outraged the Indiana State Senate has voted to put the health care of 22,000 Hoosiers at risk and vowed to immediately file for injunctive relief if HB 1210 becomes law, which could be costly for the State of Indiana.

The bill’s intent is to immediately shut off nearly $3 million in federal family planning and Medicaid funding that passes through the state to Planned Parenthood of Indiana. The funding pays for preventive health care for low-income Hoosiers – Pap tests, birth control, breast exams and STD testing and treatment. “It’s unconstitutional, on its face,” said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum.

February 13, 2011

I found myself on the other side of the journalistic equation this past week, when the Indiana Daily Student published a front-page story about my work on autism and the environment, including links between vaccines and the pervasive developmental disorder.

The story drew the expected shrill and vitriolic reaction from vaccine industry defenders, none of whom identify themselves by name. The comments section attracted more than three dozen responses from some of the highest profile actors in the national debate. What follows is my response to the fallout.

FDA to re-evaluate mercury in dental fillings

December 18, 2010

A new study linking autism to a specific type of neurological problem has buttressed the case against one possible environmental cause of the pervasive developmental disorder. And the conclusions are particularly compelling, given its release three months after the U.S. Vaccine Court awarded $20 million to a Georgia girl for the same condition.

The court ruled Hanna Poling's pre-existing mitochondrial disorder was aggravated by the MMR vaccine, which led to a brain disorder that manifested itself "with features of autism spectrum disorder." The just-published University of California-Davis study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found "children with autism were more likely to have mitochondrial dysfunction."

December 16, 2010

Wendell Potter, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010, 277 pages, $26.00

“About 45,000 people die in America every year because they have no health insurance. I am partly responsible for some of the deaths making up that shameful statistic.”

Those two sentences open a book by Wendell Potter called Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. Part expose and part memoir of the author’s experience in the health care industry, the book’s as dramatic and suspenseful as a good novel.

December 4, 2010

If you think you're going to hike with Ron Habney, you'd better be prepared. The 6-foot-tall, 130-pound, 25-year-old treks an average four to six miles a day on some of the most challenging trails in Southern Indiana's Upland regions. Not everyday, to his chagrin, but multiple times a week. Last summer, on one 96-degree day, Ron hiked 9.4 miles through the Charles Deam Wilderness Area in two hours and 20 minutes.

So says John Willman, who knows. He's been Ron's hiking companion and caregiver for almost eight years now. "He's truly an athlete," John says of Ron. "His hiking skills are almost unmatched." Beneath close-cropped, thick, black hair, Willman's blue-green eyes beam proud-parent-like as he recounts Ron's on-trail achievements. But they're just a footnote to this rainy-gray November afternoon interview.

Ron has autism, and John, who is not Ron's parent, is preoccupied with his fate.

Pediatricians continue denying role in worldwide epidemic
September 19, 2010

As the journal Pediatrics released the latest installment of what can only be called "head-in-the-sand autism science," the U.S. Vaccine Court in Washington D.C. reiterated a previous ruling that a vaccine did cause a Georgia girl's autism. And this time the "Special Masters," as the judges are called, assigned damages for that vaccine-induced injury at $20 million, more or less.

The case involves a girl named Hannah Poling, whose parents in 2002 sought compensation for the autistic symptoms she developed after receiving five shots with nine doses of vaccines in a single visit to her pediatrician when she was 19 months old. Her family -- father Jon is a neurologist -- presented such an airtight case that the government did not contest it.

Bloomington man says everyone sues, 'right down the line'

August 21, 2010

Randy Paul has a pail of gut-wrenching stories to tell about the brutal realities faced by chronically ill citizens in America's "health care system." Some involve family, others acquaintances. Still others involve pain and suffering. As bad, and usually worse, are the tales about creditors and reputation.

Take, for example, the time when Paul's middle daughter was 3, burning hot with fever, and the family's pediatrician wouldn't see her because mom and dad didn't have $36 to pay off an outstanding bill from another of their six kids. "I said, 'We don't have $36,'" Randy recalls. "'My wife and I together, if we added up all the money we have, it might come up to about 20 bucks.' We were that broke." The woman behind the window told them, "We won't see her."

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