Solicitor of Labor Patricia Smith called that track record unacceptable. She said the Labor Department will monitor how administrative law judges weigh medical opinions, saying they should examine a doctor's credibility, not just credentials. The opinions of Wheeler and his colleagues have been key in many cases largely because of their affiliation with the prestigious institution and their backgrounds.
"What I need to look at is whether there's a legal problem," Smith said. "I'm going to be thinking about that long and hard."
Before the news reports, Johns Hopkins defended the unit's X-ray readings in black lung cases; it has since said it takes "very seriously the questions raised" in the reports, suspending the program pending a review.
Casey said the overall findings of the ABC News investigation with the Center were disturbing. "It just shows us there's a lot more work to do," he said. "There's a real sense of frustration when you see we haven't made nearly as much progress as we thought we were making before having read this report."
Chris Hamby is an investigative reporter for the Center for Public Integrity.