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| Investigative


Code Green: Bleeding Dollars

The Tribune-Review conducted a year-long investigation during 2011 into the underlying causes of rising health care costs across the United States. Reporters Luis Fabregas and Andrew Conte examined four main issues that contribute greatly to those costs: hospital readmissions, aggressive end-of-life care, geographic variation of health services and costs, and a spending boom on new hospitals.


Probe: Hospital readmissions take toll in Pennsylvania

March 6, 2011
By Andrew Conte and Luis Fábregas
Pennsylvania hospitals charged more than $1.25 billion in 2009 to treat patients who were readmitted for complications or infections that might have been avoided, a Tribune-Review investigation has found. --- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's …


Educating patients a fix, but it lacks cash carrot

March 6, 2011
By Luis Fábregas and Andrew Conte
All it took was a bathroom scale, a pill organizer and a home visit from a nurse. Those were the weapons Washington Hospital used to combat a sharp rise in readmission rates for patients with …


How the Tribune-Review's readmissions probe worked

March 6, 2011
By Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review analyzed data on readmissions for complication or infection within 30 days that hospitals reported to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. The data cover the federal fiscal year 2009 (Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009). Readmissions: The council provided the number of actual readmissions because of …


Aggressive care to the end: Who pays?

June 5, 2011
By Andrew Conte and Luis Fábregas
Every night before closing his eyes, while lying on a hospital bed in his living room, Francis Massco pleaded to his wife of almost 60 years: "Pray that God takes me home tonight." Three years …


Facing death: Tough decisions on pricey care

June 6, 2011
By Luis Fábregas and Andrew Conte
Death stares at James Dean. As a funeral director, he embalms bodies and counsels grieving relatives. As a man with advanced prostate cancer, he contemplates his death as the illness spreads and zaps his energy. …


High readmissions for some patients to cost federal money

August 2, 2011
By Andrew Conte
Hospitals with a high rate of Medicare patients who have to be readmitted for treatment of heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia will have their federal funding cut under a new rule announced on Monday. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it will cut payments beginning on Oct. …


Costs can vary widely for same medical procedures

September 25, 2011
By Andrew Conte and Luis Fábregas
Drivers wouldn't buy gasoline at a pump where prices aren't posted. Not many people purchase a car or a house without haggling with the seller. Yet, few Americans pay attention to their own health care …


Little progress found in expensive hospital readmissions

September 28, 2011
By Luis Fábregas and Andrew Conte
Hospitals nationwide are making little progress in curbing costly readmissions, according to a report today that labels attempts to address the problem "slow and inconsistent." Readmission rates for Medicare patients ages 65 and older within 30 days barely changed from 2004 to 2009, according to the report from the Dartmouth …


Medical building boom increasing Americans' health care costs

December 18, 2011
By Andrew Conte and Luis Fábregas
Hospitals nationwide are spending billions on large new facilities in a medical arms race to dominate markets and increase profits, while ultimately raising health care costs for patients, taxpayers and anyone with insurance. From 2008 …


Washington, Pa. hospital turns profit from specialty cases

December 18, 2011
By Andrew Conte
With "fine cuisine" catered in for overnight patients and personalized service, Advanced Surgical Hospital touts itself as the Ritz-Carlton of hospitals. Owned by doctors, the Washington facility opened last year and turns a profit by …


Debate raging across United States over new hospitals

December 19, 2011
By Andrew Conte and Luis Fábregas
Like McDonald's versus Burger King or Wal-Mart against Target, U.S. hospitals spent $17 billion on new buildings the past two years to get your business. "If there's a new hospital, somebody has to pay for …


Monroeville hospitals angle for ambulances

December 22, 2011
By Andrew Conte
A budding hospital war in Monroeville has the region's two largest health care systems offering holiday cookies, sandwiches, calendars and coffee mugs to help woo ambulance crews that deliver patients to emergency rooms. But paramedics …


Pennsylvania legislators eye return to reviews as hospitals build

December 23, 2011
By Andrew Conte and Luis Fábregas
Pennsylvania should bring back a review process for hospital spending on construction and medical equipment, some state lawmakers said on Thursday in response to a Tribune-Review investigation. Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, plans to introduce legislation that would reinstate the certificate of need, or CON, law requiring hospitals and doctors …