Hannah Recht

Data journalist

I’m a data reporter who investigates how the decisions made by people in power affect our lives using statistical analysis, graphics, and traditional reporting techniques. I’m dedicated to open data: whenever possible, I share analysis, cleaned data, and code with local reporters and the public using Github and easy-to-use spreadsheets.

As an R programmer, I built censusapi, an open-source package that makes it easy to grab U.S. Census Bureau data programmatically. I’ve spent years diving into the weeds of Census data and bring that experience to my reporting on on geospatial patterns, demographic trends, and disparities.

I reported on the U.S. health care system at KFF Health News, where I covered the systematic defunding of our public health system, violations of disability rights laws, and disparities in the rollout of covid treatments and vaccines. Before that, I worked at Bloomberg News as a data and graphics reporter and at the Urban Institute as a data analyst and data visualization developer. I graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in mathematics and statistics and a minor in epidemiology.

News


The Powerful Constraints on Medical Care in Catholic Hospitals Across America

I compiled detailed birth data from every state and tracked the affiliation of every hospital in the U.S. to find that 16% of births are in Catholic hospitals, which restrict reproductive and contraceptive care. My spatial analysis revealed that three out of four Americans live within an hour's drive of Catholic birthing hospitals.

Our investigation found that many don’t have a choice for their care — non-Catholic hospitals are too far to reach in an emergency or aren’t in their insurance networks. Ambulances may take patients to a Catholic facility without giving them a say. Women often don’t know that hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic Church or that they restrict reproductive care.

US map with title: Where Catholic Hospitals Dominate. Subtitle: Where Catholic Hospitals Dominate. The map shows that most of the midwest, northeast, west coast, and parts of the south have Catholic hospitals nearby.


As Medicaid Purge Begins, ‘Staggering Numbers’ of Americans Lose Coverage

In the early days of the Medicaid “unwinding”, I requested data from every state that had begun to roll back pandemic-era Medicaid eligbility protections. My analysis found that the overwhelming majority of people who had lost coverage so far were dropped because of technicalities, not because officials determined they are no longer eligible.

I published all of the underlying records for reuse by local reporters and researchers.

Part of a chart showing state-by-state rates of Medicaid coverage renewals and terminations in the early weeks of the Medicaid unwinding.

Covid Vaccination Disparities

We published one of the first national analyses revealing deep racial disparities in the covid vaccine rollout. We later obtained exclusive federal data on vaccinations by race and ethnicity for every state and also analyzed vaccination rates of children.

Finalist for the 2022 NIHCM award, general circulation.

Chart showing share of vaccinated people who are Black vs share of state residents who are Black for several states in January 2021. In every state, the share of vaccinated people who are Black was far lower than the share of state residents.

Covid Treatment Rollout

Bar chart with title CVS MinuteClinics Dominate Covid Test-to-Treat program, showing number of participating locations by type. CVS had 1,193, far dwarfing every other group.

In Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta, Millions Face Long Drives to Stroke Care

In several Mississippi Delta and Appalachian states, more than half of residents must drive longer than 45 minutes to reach a hospital that is stroke-certified and able to provide the most advanced care.

I analyzed drive times to stroke-certified hospitals using R — see the code behind this analysis on Github.

Map of southeastern US showing that many parts of the region have no stroke-certified hospitals within a 45-minute drive.

Inaccessible Health Care

Our investigation found covid vaccine registration and information websites at the federal, state and local levels were flouting disability rights laws and limiting the ability of people who are blind or visually impaired to sign up for shots. Five New York state and local government agencies agreed to fix covid-19 vaccine websites to make them accessible for blind users following a Department of Justice investigation spurred by our initial story.

Screenshot of top of news article displaying the headline Covid Vaccine Websites Violate Disability Laws, Create Inequity for the Blind, followed by a picture of a blind man posing for a portrait outdoors and holding his white cane

What Life Would Look Like Without the ‘Tampon Tax’

“Band-aids—check. Condoms—check. Sunscreen—check. Tampons? Nope, sorry.”

I explored how the omission of menstrual products from the U.S.’s list of medical products eligible for tax breaks disproportionately affected low-income women and girls.

Winner of the 2019 Malofiej Award for Equality and Women’s Promotion Best Graphic, Digital.

Pile of over-the-counter health projects on left and single tampon on right in front of teal background

Colorado’s Ski Towns Could Fix the High Cost of American Health Care

We examined the high prices and long drives to hospitals that led rural Coloradans to create an innovative insurance pricing model.

Map of Colorado showing number of hospitals in one hour driving time

Where Democratic Candidates Disagree in Congress—If They Vote at All

Ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary, I analyzed the Congressional voting record of every candidate to see how often they disagreed with each other.

Democratic presidential candidate faces on background of colorful red, orange and yellow circles

Orphan Black: Clone Tracker

Orphan Black was a science fiction show about clones starring Tatiana Maslany opposite herself in several lead roles. Some reviewers claimed she must be in every minute of the show. I had to investigate.

In the end, there were 50 episodes and 2,062 minutes of Orphan Black, featuring 1,982 minutes of Maslany.

Orphan Black clone character picture, data viz, and data table

Here’s How Affordable Care Act Marketplaces Are Shaping Up Under Trump’s Watch

As Republicans attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, health insurance companies began to retreat from the ACA marketplaces. I tracked the proposed 2018 ACA marketplace offerings of every company in every county for several months by analyzing arcane insurance rate filings in this blog-style project.

Animated US county map showing counties gaining and losing insurance offerings by month

#MeToo’s First Year Ends With More Than 425 Accused

We assembled a database of hundreds of people publicly accused of sexual misconduct in the first year after accusations against Harvey Weinstein became public. For the page header, I created a dizzying animation of the year’s worth of headlines to reflect the quickly growing #MeToo movement.

Overlapping headlines from hundreds of me too stories with the title '#MeToo: One Year Later' in the center

The Massive Prize Luring Miners to the Stars

Asteroids hold potential riches — if miners can reach them. I created illustrations of the first U.S. spacecraft set to bring an asteroid sample back to Earth and analyzed the estimated quintillions of dollars hidden in some distant asteroids.

Illustration of spacecraft on starry background

Track the Key Changes in the GOP’s Health Plan

We tracked the many Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act throughout 2017, quickly analyzing what each new plan would change and how that would impact Americans.

Text on light blue background listing key events in 2017 attempted Affordable Care Act repeal

Software


An R wrapper for the U.S. Census Bureau APIs.

Selected Talks and Tutorials


Tutorial, 2021
Open sourcing your research: The ultimate methods section
Population Association of America invited session (Open source demography), 2021
How to edit data as seriously as we edit words
SRCCON session, 2019
How and why to make your data analysis reproducible
NICAR panel, 2018

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