Murray Waas is picking up the prestigious Barlett & Steele award today in Phoenix for his special report on health insurers dropping patients after they were diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Reynolds Center is holding a panel discussion with Murray and silver medal winner John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which will be streamed live here.
Murray's four-month investigation, supported by additional reporting from Lewis Krauskopf, revealed that a giant health insurer had targeted policyholders recently diagnosed with breast cancer for aggressive investigations and canceled some policies. An exhaustive study of records, hearings and federal data, as well as dozens of interviews with experts, officials and patients led to the story, which was edited by Jim Impoco and Doina Chiacu.
We published the story in April and the reaction was swift. The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats urged insurers to end the policy known as rescission immediately — five months before the new healthcare law would require it to do so.
Within days, Wellpoint announced it would stop dropping coverage for all customers after they get sick. The very next day, UnitedHealth Group followed suit, as would most of the health insurance industry in the following days.