Gazette quoted Independence Institute analyst in editorial criticizing health plan proposal, but did not disclose think tank's leanings

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Criticizing a single-payer state health care proposal, an August 26 editorial in The Gazette of Colorado Springs identified a member of Colorado's health care reform panel who questioned the plan's projected cost savings as a "policy analyst at the Independence Institute" -- but omitted mention that the Institute is a think tank that "addresses ... policy issues from a free-market, pro-freedom perspective."

In an August 26 editorial criticizing a proposal to implement a single-payer health care system for Colorado, The Gazette of Colorado Springs identified Linda Gorman as "the health care policy analyst at the Independence Institute" without further identifying the Independence Institute as a free-market think tank.

The editorial discussed the single-payer health care proposal that the Health Care for All Colorado (HCAC) coalition had submitted to Colorado's Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform, an entity established in 2006 by Senate Bill 208. As the commission explained in an August 23 press release, SB 208 charged the commission "with making recommendations for comprehensive health care reform with the goal of increasing health care coverage and decreasing costs for Colorado residents, with particular emphasis on the issues of the uninsured, underinsured, and those at risk of financial hardship due to the costs of medical care."

The HCAC proposal was one of four that the commission identified for "detailed 'modeling' analysis" by The Lewin Group. Repeating its reporting from August 24, the Gazette editorial quoted Gorman, who is a member of the commission, questioning cost savings that The Lewin Group's analysis attributed to the single-payer plan.

From the editorial "Single-payer insanity" in the August 26 edition of The Gazette of Colorado Springs:

We'll have time in the months ahead to more carefully dissect the options and recommendations put forward by the Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, in response to the fact that many Coloradans lack health care coverage. But our initial response to one of the proposals, with a price tag of $26.6 billion a year, is that somebody hasn't been taking their meds.

Give these people something to clear their heads, stat! Give it to them whether or not they have health insurance!

And get this. Proponents of this single-payer plan, which would be funded with a new payroll tax, along with higher income, alcohol and tobacco taxes, say it will actually "save" us all $4 billion a year, based on the fact that Coloradans now pay an estimated $30 billion a year on medical care.

Sounds like a bargain. Where do we sign up?

That's sarcasm, in case you didn't catch it. The $26.6 billion guesstimate is $8 billion more than the entire state budget, just to put things in context. And like all such guesstimates, it's likely to be laughably low when all is said and done.

[...]

At least one commission member also is shaking her head at the notion that we can "save" money with a single-payer system. "They just said we could save money if we go to a singlepayer plan that has a bigger plan of benefits than anything that exists?" asks Linda Gorman, the health care policy analyst at the Independence Institute. "Does that make sense to anybody?"

It apparently makes sense to somebody, or it wouldn't have made the list of options. But this proposal won't be acceptable to most Coloradans. We suspect it was placed on the list as a ploy -- in order to make the other options appear reasonable.

Gorman also is director of the Independence Institute's Health Care Policy Center, which, according to the think tank's website, "focus[es] on public policy that safeguards consumers' ability to determine their own choices about their own health care and the care of their families. HCPC fights the expansion of government directed health care that infringes upon individual choice."

In contrast to The Gazette, the commission noted the Independence Institute's free-market leanings in its biographical profile of Gorman:

Linda Gorman is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Golden, Colorado and director of the Institute's Health Care Center. A freelance writer and researcher, she was a weekly columnist for the Colorado Daily in Boulder. Her articles have appeared in local newspapers, professional journals, and publications such as The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics.

She has worked as an economic researcher for a Denver mutual fund company, and was an adjunct professor and a principal investigator for several military manpower projects at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Her academic degrees are in economics.

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