AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN was honored with a National Edward R. Murrow award Tuesday for its investigation into the impact of hundreds of medical debt lawsuits filed against Central Texas patients.
“Medical Debt Lawsuits” received recognition in the Excellence in Innovation category for television large markets.
The Murrow Awards are named after the prominent broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and are “among the most prestigious in news,” according to the Radio Television Digital News Association. RTDNA has honored “outstanding achievements” in journalism with the award since 1971.
The project started with an anonymous tip, which led KXAN investigators to discover hundreds of people were being sued on behalf of the same hospital over their medical debt in one Central Texas court. While the practice is legal, the project worked to show the impact those lawsuits have on patients, how others can avoid it and what Texas leaders are considering to adjust the state’s debt collection system.
KXAN collaborated with the national journalism company, ClearHealthCosts, launching a series of reports exposing this issue, an interactive digital project walking users through the data we analyzed, a podcast and resource page offering tips on navigating such legal troubles and statewide video crowdsourcing on social media allowing patients to share their own stories to warn others. Our ongoing watchdog work also prompted a handful of state lawmakers to craft policy – signed by the governor into law – to better protect patients in the 2023 Texas legislative session.