Berens made that point. In Part 2 of the series, he told the tale of one Arlie Leno, who Berens said “committed perhaps his most brazen violation. He sneaked an extra resident into Narrows View.” The law said he could only care for six residents, but he added a seventh, “apparently to squeeze out more profits,” the paper reported. Leno had a long history of violations, but the state seemed to overlook them. Higher-ups overruled field supervisors who recommended that he should lose his license, but when the story ran, Leno’s facility, which had racked up more serious violations than any other home, was still in business.

In Part 3, which ran a few weeks ago, Berens further investigated “the system,” noting that the medical examiner and the police had created a plan to review these homes. A police detective had planned to visit each home where a death had occurred. The plan faced “instant opposition” from families, adult home owners, and doctors who didn’t like their judgments questioned.

The series has brought a few results. Adult homes must post inspection reports and violations and the Department of Social and Health Services will publish online its enforcement actions. While this disclosure is helpful, it doesn’t get at the systemic rot. It certainly hasn’t for nursing homes, where such disclosures are plentiful. We hope the paper will take this series to the next level and dig deeply into the payment system with its screwy incentives that allow such abuse to continue. That leads to money and politics. If Washington is a model for adult home care, it’s only fitting that the state’s premier newspaper become a model for the kind of journalism that can change the system.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.