KILL BILL: Revenge of the Lewin Group

July 29, 2009  
Filed under General Interest

As more Republicans speak out against Health Care Reform, you can’t help but notice a common thread in their arguments: the Lewin Group. Also painfully obvious is that they’re all using the same talking points, over and over again. Talking points provided to them by this mysterious Lewin Group they keep referencing.

As an example: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-6): “Approximately 114 million Americans are expected to leave private health insurance.” In all fairness, she’s not the only one regurgitating highlights from a Lewin Group report. For years, congressional lawmakers  have regarded the Lewin Group, a Virginia-based research firm, as an unbiased, nonpartisan auditor of health care legislation. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, considers Lewin Group to be “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country.”

All this bowing down to the Lewin Group Gods/Goddesses had me wondering just who this group is, and why they seem to wield such power over our “lawmakers.” Come to find out, and no big surprise here, Lewin Group is linked to private insurers. And private insurers are more than happy with the status quo, so of course they’re strong opponents of health care reform.

Lewin Group, which is owned by United Healthcare Group, the insurance giant that has been gobbling up insurance companies left and right, released a recent study claiming that a public insurance option would cost doctors and hospital money. Lewin Group’s flagship, United Healthcare, helps make it the largest health insurer in the country. It’s a safe bet that United is not too keen on a public plan that would cut into its profits.

But wait… there’s more!

Skew the data and to hell with the consumers.

The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association 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.

The inspiration behind the GOP’s efforts to KILL this bill, at all costs? It’s certainly not because they have a better plan. They don’t have ANY plan, other than their plan to kill health care reform, and insurance reform. The insurance companies, and Big Pharma pour MILLIONS of dollars into the pockets of politicians on a DAILY basis. Who wants to give those cash cows up?

To name a few GOP lawmakers, who like the insurers have argued that a public option will harm private sector providers:

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have mentioned Lewin data.

Cantor has brought in $12,500 from UnitedHealth since 2007 and Hatch has raised $7,000. Cantor ranks No. 13 among all lawmakers who have collected UnitedHealth cash since 2007.

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana and a potential Republican presidential candidate, as well as Karl Rove, a strategist in the Bush White House, have both penned recent Wall Street Journal columns using Lewin figures to criticize a public health care plan. (Read: Jindal - Rove)  

The Wall Street Journal also harvested Lewin statistics in a July 20 editorial: “A new analysis by the Lewin Group, prepared for the Heritage Foundation, finds that some 88.1 million people will be shifted out of private employer health insurance under the House bill.” That’s considerably less than Jindal’s “100 million,” Bachmann’s “114 million,” and Rove’s “120 million.” The number (the Fear Factor) increases as the story line is retold – which makes you wonder if they’re all even reading the same report… or reading the report at all. I suspect they’re all pulling these numbers out of their butts.

America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP) chief executive, Karen Ignagni, while she donates to both parties tends to favor Republicans with her campaign contributions.  Capital Eye reported earlier this month that about 55 percent of her lifetime donations have gone to Republicans.

And there you have it: The stated reason - it’s going to cost tax payers too much money, and the REAL reasons why the  GOP thinks health care reform, and insurance reform, is a very, very, bad idea — it will cost the insurance and pharmaceutical companies way too much money in the way of lost profits.  It’s also a bad idea for the politicians who count on these big money donors. It’s always about the money. Our entire dysfunctional health care system is all about the money.

Obviously, there is no rush to pass health care reform. We’ve been talking about it for about 60 years.   ANYTHING that takes 60 years to get done certainly can’t be considered “rushing.”  So let’s just continue to talk about it for another 50 years or so.  By then, no one will be able to afford health insurance, regardless of the  plan. Thousands more will have died as a result of not being able to afford health care; thousands more will have their homes foreclosed upon due to medical bankruptcy, and our national deficit… well…. that won’t matter by then since China will own us lock, stock and barrel.

If I seem angry with this whole health care reform matter it’s because I am.  I’m one of the millions of Americans who — if lucky enough to have health insurance — cannot afford to have their health insurance premiums increase by 30% or more every year.  I’m also one of the 76% of Americans who WANT AN AFFORDABLE OPTION.  And, I’m also one of the millions of Americans who are sick to death of having the insurance and pharmaceutical industries control my health care choices through lame-ass greedy, corrupt, politicians who only care about money and political posturing.  I don’t care about bipartisanship.  I just want quality health care that isn’t going to send me into medical bankruptcy if I do happen to get hit by that bus.

  • Shop for natural remedies for health conditions

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...

You must be logged in to post a comment.