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Original and in-depth coverage about topics important to Pennsylvania

Hepatitis C: Cost in the way of a cure

Public and private health plans reserve expensive hepatitis C medications for patients with severe liver damage, leaving those in early stages of the disease with the festering virus.

Millennials wanted as Boomers expected to leave a crater in the job market

The Pittsburgh area is attracting many highly educated Millennials, but what the region needs are younger people willing to look at manufacturing jobs.

PA law prohibits needle exchanges that can save lives

Part of the project: Heroin: Riding the Rush

Trouble getting clean needles means spikes in HIV and hepatitis C. But Allegheny County and Philadelphia ignore the law.

Mara Sweterlitsch

People with speech disabilities, their advocates relieved by proposed policy

Medicare’s proposed coverage policy for speech-generating devices includes text messaging, email and phone capabilities, signaling an about-face from its position last year.

8 facts about the shale gas industry’s air pollution

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently released data on air emissions from the shale gas industry in 2013.

PublicSource looked into the data and built a series of interactive charts so you can more easily explore the information.

Is certification for community health workers a good idea?

One day about five years ago, Sharine Eliza was working as a medical assistant in Camden, N.J., when she was warned about the next patient.

He was difficult, and always exasperated with the doctor. He wouldn’t take his medications and he frequently ended up in the emergency room because of it. The 72-year-old man was receiving hospice care, but he continued to smoke cigarettes and drink a 12-pack of beer every day.

Tax credits help offset the high cost of adoption

In 2011, the year Christi and John Rooke adopted two of their five children, the Pittsburgh couple filed for an adoption tax credit — $13,000 for each daughter who joined their family.

The couple used the $26,000 combined credit to pay off their debt, and to buy a 12-seat passenger van and a pop-up camper to take their family on cross-country adventures.

Though it may sound like a windfall, Christi Rooke said the family is strapped much of the time. She and her husband work flexible jobs so someone is always home with the children, who have an array of needs resulting from foster care and the circumstances that got them there, she said. All five of the children, ages 3 to 14, were adopted through Pennsylvania’s child welfare system.

Tax calculator: How Gov. Wolf's budget would affect you in Allegheny County

Since Gov. Tom Wolf announced his ambitious budget proposal that would rework Pennsylvania’s tax structure, you may have simultaneously heard you will be better off and worse off under his proposal.

The administration said the average family of four will save 13 percent on its total tax bill, while the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank in Harrisburg, said an average family of four will pay about $1,400 more under Wolf’s proposal.

How accurate are state heroin overdose statistics?

Heroin abuse has reached crisis levels in the commonwealth and across the Northeast.

But determining the full scope of the problem is proving harder than one might think.

Without a single standard in Pennsylvania, the state's 67 county coroners and medical examiners operate under their own individual set of rules to determine if a drug overdose was caused by heroin.

Check out the major sources of industrial air pollution in Allegheny County

Whether you’re new to the Pittsburgh region or have lived here your whole life, you probably want to know what’s in the air you’re breathing and where it’s coming from.

Eye on the inside: Do cameras in nursing homes protect or intrude?

As suddenly as he lost his ability to speak last fall, Stuart Sanderson’s connection to the world outside his Philadelphia nursing-home room was severed because of anxiety over a simple webcam.

A compact video camera on his computer monitor allowed him to speak to family even without a voice. Stu, as he prefers to be called, has cerebral palsy, but video calls put him in touch with his ailing father and his brother, who would take the time to read his lips.

Drug courts at odds with each other and the feds

Part of the project: Heroin: Riding the Rush

In Allegheny County, Judge Lester Nauhaus sees his drug court as an alternative to the carnage of the drug war.

Drugs drive crime. But locking up addicts doesn’t stop crime. Nor does it stop drug addiction.

“Nail ‘em and jail ‘em wasn’t working,” Nauhaus told PublicSource in an interview. “All it was doing was costing everybody a fortune.”

The power of the PA Millennial boom

This year, the Millennial generation will eclipse the Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, totaling 75.3 million, according to U.S. Census data.

For our purposes, the Millennials are that broad group born between 1981 and 1997, making them between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2015, as defined by the Pew Research Center.

In Pennsylvania, there are more than 2.8 million of them. More than half a million of them are concentrated in Pennsylvania’s two largest cities, with more than 450,000 living in Philadelphia and more than 100,000 in Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County police still keep many records on paper

Want to check out a police report? Welcome to the file cabinet

For the Allegheny County Police Department, searching for details on past crimes sometimes calls for cabinet duty.

That means a team of detectives literally thumbing through paper records in old-fashioned file cabinets.

That’s how police work was done before computers and before officers elsewhere could access databases from handheld devices.

Regulators to probe PA union-backed nonprofit

PHILADELPHIA — State election regulators will investigate whether Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a liberal nonprofit that repeatedly criticized former Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett and other conservative politicians, violated political disclosure laws.

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