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This Week in Tarbell

Moneymaking moves: Ascension Health Alliance’s partnership with Google shocked multiple government stakeholders enough that they opened inquiries into the alliance. But based on the hospital’s previous moves, this nonprofit seems determined to earn back money to compensate for its charitable care.

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Notable Investigations & Solutions

Drugs in the water: There’s no requirement for testing pharmaceutical manufacturers for their pollution, but that does not mean the ecosystems in Morgantown, West Virginia are thriving with high levels of diazepam and phenytoin. Though Mylan and other manufacturers are reprimanded for dumping by the FDA, they continue to release polluting chemicals into the environment, putting flora and fauna at heightened risk.

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​PAHCF power: ​The largest political battle so far in the 21st century has been the health industry’s fight against universal health care. As it faces considerable losses, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future has emerged and spent more and more money to get closer to the ears of powerful politicians. Capital and Main unpacks the partnership in a new feature.

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Sponsored testimony: A new damning report from the Energy & Policy Institute shows that the local organizations that come out to support or protest the same issues that concern utility companies are receiving thousands of dollars in charitable donations from those same utilities. In just 5 years, 10 utility companies had donated 13 times the amount that they donated to elected officials’ campaigns.

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Lobbyists jump the pond: While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to swiftly pull the nation out of the EU, American corporate lobbyists are seizing the opportunity to find trade deals hidden in the Brexit mess.

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Keeping households safe? The Trump administration is preparing to bring in a new Consumer Product Safety Commission chair to oversee safety of household, but their top choice, Nancy Beck, is a former chemical industry leader who fought to roll back regulations on toxic chemicals.

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Coaching columnists: A lobbyist tied with the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future has been coaching at least three state legislators on their op-eds on health. As Wendell Potter pointed out on Twitter, buying support from trusted state lawmakers is a trusted tactic of the health industry in manipulating public opinion.

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Spotlight on Local Reporting

Pulling teeth: California dentists have been pressuring their low income patients for payments, and a shark-like credit industry is rising out of that tension. And when state officials attempted to curtail the credit agencies aimed at patients, the dental industry deployed lobbyists to water down the proposed bill, the Fresno Bee found.

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Cleaning up magistrates: A collaboration between ProPublica and the Post and Courier demonstrated that South Carolina’s magistrate system bred a culture of corruption and neglect in law, and now lawmakers are taking action, ProPublica reports.

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