Organizations seem to be making more use of commentaries masquerading as neutral reports as public policy weapons. This is a menace to my own peace of mind, because I want to try to make the LifeHealthPro.com Health Channel suitable for readers who look at health insurance policy from a wide range of perspectives.
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Sometimes, other organizations pick up the “neutral reports” (that aren’t), and cover them as if they were straight news. I get asked why I haven’t covered those “important new reports.”
Because: The reports were just fancy letters to the editor, not presentations of interesting new information or insightful new analyses of previously published data.
America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has come out today with a respectable, positive example of the genre: A “report” by actuaries at Milliman about why narrow health plan provider networks can be fine. The actuaries note that narrow networks can have problems, but they say narrow networks have helped some health plans hold down costs. They argue that well-designed narrow networks may actually increase patient satisfaction and improve the quality of care.
The Milliman actuaries’ paper is nice. It might be helpful to people who’ve never thought about the network issue at all, or need a few statistics about the issue to put in a briefing report for a higher-up. But the paper isn’t really news in the way, say, a summary of new AHIP insurer survey results is news.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has what I think of as a nasty example of the genre: “Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid.” The people who wrote the “report” talk about all of the horrible things that will happen in the states that fail to take Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion money.
The CEA analysts who wrote that report seem to be adopting the strategy that many Democrats were taking back before PPACA was PPACA: Whenever the Republicans break from complaining that Obama is a gun-seizing Pakistani intelligence agent who is not actually his own mother’s son long enough to point out possible problems with PPACA, haul out someone with cancer, or the mother of someone who died of cancer, or someone who eventually will have cancer, and get everyone crying.
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