Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a front-page article by Ceci Connolly hyping an insurance industry attack on health care reform. Connolly and the Post didn't mention glaring flaws with the industry-funded study that claims reform would result in a $4,000 increase in insurance premiums. Flaws like the fact that the study was based on assumptions it admits are unlikely to actually come true:
"We have estimated the potential impact of the tax on premiums. Although we expect employers to respond to the tax by restructuring their benefits to avoid it, we demonstrate the impact assuming it is applied."
Got that? The study demonstrates the impact of something they don't expect to happen. The Post didn't mention that, though The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn had pointed it out the night before. Nor did the Post mention that the PricewaterhouseCooper, the firm that conducted the "study" for the insurance industry, conducted bogus studies for the tobacco industry in the 1990s. Those are two rather glaring reasons why the current study shouldn't be taken seriously -- but Connolly and the Post stayed silent about both, offering readers no reason to be suspicious of the study other than the predictable disagreements from reform advocates.
Well, today, Connolly is back, with an article all about the insurance industry study. Maybe today she gets around to exposing some of its flaws? Nope. It's all he-said/she-said, with no independent analysis, no discussion of the flawed track record of the firm that conducted the study, no explanation of the assumptions and limitations of the study.
The study, and the way the insurance industry is using it, is so misleading PricewaterhouseCooper -- which conducted the study -- released a statement last night emphasizing that "the report itself acknowledges, other provisions that are part of health reform proposals were not included in the PwC analysis." That's right: PwC released a statement last night distancing itself from the way its own study is being used, and pointing out that their study is not a comprehensive look at health care reform proposals but rather a narrow assessment of "four components" of the Senate Finance bill that ignored "other provisions" in it.
And yet Ceci Connolly didn't mention that in today's Washington Post article. Connolly covers health care reform full-time. That's her beat. And she's now written a second article in two days about an insurance industry funded report that is so flawed even the firm that prepared the report -- a firm with a spotty history on these matters -- is distancing itself from the industry's conclusions. And yet neither of her articles has contained a word about any of this. Neither has given readers so much as a hint of any of these flaws -- the nonsensical assumptions, the narrow focus, the firm's track record.
What is the point of having a reporter assigned full-time to the health care reform beat if she is incapable or unwilling to give readers that kind of information? Anyone can type up some quotes from the insurance industry, type up a response from the White House, and call it a day. What, exactly, does Ceci Connolly bring to the table?