The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threatened to ban a Modern Healthcare reporter from participating in the federal agency’s telephone news conferences after he refused to delete three sentences from a published story.
Felice Freyer of The Boston Globe reported, “The reporter — Virgil Dickson, Washington bureau chief for Modern Healthcare — believed the agency was making good on its threat on Thursday when, he said, his phone went mute during a CMS press call and a woman’s voice told him he was not allowed to participate. An editor later confirmed with CMS officials that he had been banned from press calls, Dickson said.
“But after the Association of Health Care Journalists sent CMS several questions about the incident, an agency spokesman on Saturday evening emailed a one-sentence reply: ‘No reporters have been banned by CMS.’ He did not explain why Dickson was ejected from Thursday’s call.
“Dickson said he has received no communication from CMS assuring him of future access. Even if he is allowed to participate in future CMS press calls — already typically restricted to a handful of reporters — the attempt to alter a story by threatening to cut off access raises deep concerns among journalists.”
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