On the good news front, the WaPo finally wrote the Lewin Group expose on who they are and how their “findings” are bought and paid for:
To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is “the nonpartisan Lewin Group.” To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an “independent research firm.” To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country.”
Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest insurers.
More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician’s group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the “usual and customary” doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.
In January, UnitedHealth agreed to a $50 million settlement with the New York attorney general and a $350 million settlement with the AMA, covering conduct going back as far as 1994.
Here’s more on how the lies citing Lewin have been spreading:
“The nonpartisan Lewin Group predicts that two out of three Americans who get their health care through their employer would lose it under the House Democrat plan,” Cantor, the second-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, said in a July 12 commentary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“The independent Lewin Group analysis found that a new public plan could mean that 118 million Americans will lose their current health care coverage, and 130 million Americans could end up on a government-run health care plan,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a Senate speech in April.
Since then, adjusting its analysis to reflect the latest version of legislation drafted by House Democrats, Lewin has estimated that 88.1 million workers would shift from private, employer-sponsored insurance to the proposed public plan.
The Congressional Budget Office came to a different conclusion, saying that enrollment in the House Democrats’ proposed public plan would total about 11 million to 12 million people.
And the important nugget that’s been left out of the Republican rhetoric:
Though the millions of people Lewin was describing would lose their current employer-sponsored coverage, they wouldn’t be forced into a government-run health plan, Sheils said in an interview. Rather, they would be able to choose between the government plan and other private options.
“People would indeed lose what they have, but they might very well be better off,” he said.