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Author: ProPublica

Medical Debt: Wisconsin hospitals continued legal proceedings against patients during the pandemic

Last year as COVID-19 laid siege to the nation, many U.S. hospitals dramatically reduced their aggressive tactics to collect medical debt. Some ceased entirely. But not all. There was a nearly 90% drop overall in legal actions between 2019 and the first seven months of 2020 by the nation’s largest hospitals and health systems, according to a new report by Johns Hopkins University. Still, researchers told ProPublica that they identified at least 16 institutions that pursued lawsuits, wage garnishments and liens against their patients in the first seven months of 2020. The Johns Hopkins findings – which first reported the...

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Investigation finds Trump officials gave millions in COVID-19 response contracts to unproven companies

A top adviser to former President Donald Trump pressured agency officials to reward politically connected or otherwise untested companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts as part of a chaotic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the early findings of an inquiry led by House Democrats. Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s deputy assistant and trade adviser, essentially verbally awarded a $96 million deal for respirators to a company with White House connections. Later, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency were pressured to sign the contract after the fact, according to correspondence obtained by congressional...

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Current laws prevent domestic terrorists from being designated and prosecuted like foreign extremists

In the days leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the FBI received intelligence that extremists were planning violence as lawmakers gathered in Washington to certify the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden. FBI officials managed to dissuade people in several places from their suspected plans, a senior FBI official said — but there was not enough evidence to issue arrest warrants. “Prior to this event, the FBI obtained information about individuals who were planning on potentially traveling to the protests, individuals who were planning to engage in violence,” said the senior FBI official. “The FBI was...

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U.S. Capitol police were caught off-guard even though domestic terrorists had made violent intentions clear

The invasion of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was stoked in plain sight. For weeks, the far-right supporters of President Donald Trump railed on social media that the election had been stolen. They openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress met to certify the result. “We came up with the idea to occupy just outside the CAPITOL on Jan 6th,” leaders of the Stop the Steal movement wrote on Dec. 23. They called their January 6 demonstration the Wild Protest, a name taken from a tweet by Trump that encouraged his supporters to take...

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Windfall for rich investors: Medical staffing firms cut doctor pay and now want bailout money

Medical staffing companies, some of which are owned by some of the country’s richest investors and have been cutting pay for doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, are seeking government bailout money. Private equity firms have increasingly bought up doctors’ practices that contract with hospitals to staff emergency rooms and other departments. These staffing companies say the coronavirus pandemic is, counterintuitively, bad for business because most everyone who isn’t critically ill with COVID-19 is avoiding the ER. The companies have responded with pay cuts, reduced hours and furloughs for doctors. Emergency room visits across the country...

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Corporate Payoffs: No accountability for the coronavirus bailout repeats the mistakes of 2008

In 2008, the first of the once-in-a-lifetime economic calamities of most of our lifetimes engulfed the country and the world. Now, just over a decade later, we get to experience the second. How well the country responded to the 2008 global financial crisis is still subject to debate. After the crisis peaked in September 2008 and the government intervened with various bailout programs, the financial system and corporate America stabilized. Corporate profits were rising again by the second half of 2009. Almost everything else is in dispute. Did the efforts to save the economy do enough to help average...

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