April 3rd, 2014

Congratulations to CNN’s Rehab Racket – an AC360 series – on winning a 2013 IRE Award

Today, Investigative Reporters & Editors unveiled the 2013 winners of the IRE Awards. Among the winners is CNN’s “Rehab Racket.”

CNN and The Center for Investigative Reporting won the award in the Broadcast Video/Large category.

“Rehab Racket” was a yearlong collaboration between CNN and The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) that aired as an exclusive investigative series on Anderson Cooper 360° last July, with follow-ups in September. This was the first partnership between the investigative unit and CIR.

The series exposed widespread fraud in California’s publicly-funded drug rehab program, which is part of the largest Medicaid system in the United States. The series showed that taxpayers had spent at least $94 million over two years on Los Angeles-area rehab clinics with clear signs of fraud or questionable billing, clinic directors pressured counselors to pad bills with “ghost clients,” clinic staff bribed some of the region’s poorest residents to show up for counseling they didn’t need, teens from group homes were taken to clinics for unnecessary treatment, and convicted felons were running some of the clinics in violation of state law.

The series had a dramatic impact: A statewide crackdown shut down 223 rehab clinics, dozens of criminal investigations were opened, and the head of the state’s Medicaid agency issued a public apology for all the fraud at a legislative hearing. The governor also budgeted an additional millions of dollars to fight the fraud as a result of “Rehab Racket.”

Awards will be presented on June 28th at the national IRE Conference in San Francisco.