Died: Marshall Allen, Christian Muckraker Who Held the Health Care Industry Accountable

His reporting was marked by a cheerful determination to uncover truth, which friends and coworkers attributed to his faith.

Marshall Allen, an investigative journalist who insisted that uncovering truth was fundamental to Christian faith, died on May 19. The 52-year-old suffered a heart attack a few days earlier, according to his former employer ProPublica, one of the world’s leading investigative journalism organizations.

Allen’s unflinching reporting on the US health care industry brought relief to patients and some changes to how hospitals and insurers operate. He said the industry “exploits people’s sickness for profit”—but showing that took intense determination and extended investigations.

For one reporting project on poor hospital care in 2011, he interviewed 250 doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and patients. The resulting series in the Las Vegas Sun was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nevada legislature introduced new requirements for hospitals as a result.

In another investigation, Allen reported that Dignity Health, a large religious health system that described itself as carrying on “the healing ministry of Jesus,” had refused to cover the medical expenses of an employee’s three-month-premature baby. Dignity claimed the woman hadn’t filled out the necessary paperwork and that she bore sole responsibility for a nearly $1 million hospital bill, though she had enrolled her baby with the insurer from the NICU.

After Allen called the company with questions, Dignity reversed its decision and retroactively covered the baby, who survived.

“Some people might think that Christians are supposed to be soft and acquiescent rather than muckrakers who hold the powerful to account,” he wrote in The New York Times. “But what I do as an investigative reporter …

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