GOP Continues to Cite Misleading Numbers in Opposing Public Plan
Appearing on Fox News yesterday, Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), senior Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, reiterated an oft-mentioned, but also misleading, statistic about the effects of a government-backed insurance plan on the private marketplace.
If the Democrats get their way and include the public option, Camp charged, then 114 million Americans would hop from their private plans and into the government-sponsored option, in effect decimating the private insurance market.
That number (it’s actually 119 million) comes from a Lewin Group study released in April. Yet that study, as NPR’s Julie Rovner pointed out last month, examined the effects of a spectrum of public-plan designs, with the 119 million figure resulting from a model that allows anyone to join the public plan and sets the plan’s rates equal to the low rates of Medicare — a model that the Democrats leading the health reform push have repeatedly rejected.
But if the public plan is limited to fewer people (perhaps only those in small businesses and individuals), or if the plan pays higher rates to doctors and hospitals, fewer people would join, both because fewer would be allowed and because the plan would be less financially attractive. According to the study, the number of people dropping private coverage could be as low as 10.4 million.
Also of note, Republicans are treating the Lewin Group as an objective source of information. (Camp calls it a “non-partisan think-tank.”) Yet Rovner’s description is more apt: Lewin, she writes, is “a number-crunching consulting group owned by Ingenix, which is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group” — one of the nation’s largest insurance companies.