This week I got to publish my first real scoop for Bloomberg Law when I wrote an article entitled Qualifying Medicare Providers Get Second Reimbursement Bite. The timing of the assignment and story, published just before World Press Freedom Day, reminded me of the thanks I owe to journalists who have preceded me.
The story was about a CMS ruling, provided to me by a source, that would let qualifying providers bring an administrative appeal asking to be reimbursed for an item they left off a cost report due to a good faith belief that their Medicare contractor couldn’t accept the cost based on a rule that the provider could not, in dealing with the contractor, challenge.
Scrawled across the bottom of the ruling was “INFORMATION NOT RELEASABLE TO THE PUBLIC UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY LAW.”
Well, somebody in the CMS released that internal ruling and it landed on my desk. My editors and I decided the story was newsworthy, so we ran with it. Thank goodness the framers included press freedom in the First Amendment because in some countries, revealing secret government information means a prison sentence or death.
Today is World Press Freedom Day. It was established by the United Nations to celebrate and assess press freedom worldwide. In many places, the trend is regressing, with nations taking steps to marginalize or prohibit freedom of the press. In Myanmar, two journalists are currently imprisoned for investigating the massacre of 10 members of the Rohingya Muslim community.
I feel lucky to live in a country where we protect the media. I have great respect for the journalists operating in places where that’s not the case. A free press is necessary in a free society, that’s why we’re the one nongovernment job mentioned in the Constitution.
So take some time and support the journalists you read, listen to, or watch. Let them know they matter. Stand up for their right if it’s ever threatened.
It is often forgotten how dangerous this job can be at times. Between angering powerful people and entities or running toward things others are running from, journalists are often putting their lives on the line. In the Newseum in Washington, there’s a wall with the names of over 2,300 journalists who have given their last breath chasing one last story, chasing it for you.
Take some time to remember them, too.
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