Health Care Reform Opponents Try To Buy Report From Economist To Support Their Views

Republicans have attacked health care reform with a number of bogus arguments, such as that it represents a government take over of health care or that senior citizens will be subjected to “death panels.” They have cherry picked reports from the Congressional Budget Office which could be twisted to support their position while ignoring reports they found to be inconvenient. When they cannot support their position with the actual facts they try to invent studies to support their argument. Yesterday I noted how they did this by requesting a study from a CMS actuary which included limitations which made it virtually meaningless. Today The Washington Post reported on an email sent by opponents of health care reform to attempt to buy an economist to support their position:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama’s health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation’s economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official.

The e-mail, written by the Chamber’s senior health policy manager and obtained by The Washington Post, proposes spending $50,000 to hire a “respected economist” to study the impact of health-care legislation, which is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, would have on jobs and the economy.

Step two, according to the e-mail, appears to assume the outcome of the economic review: “The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document.”

They might not find a “respected economist” to do this study for them, but I suspect their standards are fairly low on this point.

I’m surprised we have not seen more open letters being sent. I’ve received a number of requests for my signature on letters opposing health care reform. While obviously I did not sign any of these, I’m certain that they could find a number of physicians who oppose health care reform despite the endorsement of health reform from the American Medical Association and numerous other professional organizations.

The article points out that this is similar to the manner in which America’s Health Insurance Plans put out a bogus study before the House vote:

The proposed economic study by the Chamber is the latest example of attempts by advocates and opponents of health-care reform to influence the debate with economic studies whose authenticity is later questioned by their adversaries.

In mid-October, just as the Senate Finance Committee was drafting the final wording of its health bill, the insurance industry released a study suggesting that the bill would dramatically increase the cost of insurance in the country.

The White House and reform advocates pushed back hard, arguing that the study by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) was a self-serving document that did not consider all of the relevant information in the legislation.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm retained by AHIP, later said it had not considered some parts of the health-reform proposals that might affect the cost of insurance on households.

Chris Jennings, who served as senior health-care adviser to President Bill Clinton, said the Chamber e-mail, written last Wednesday, is reminiscent of the AHIP study, both in terms of use of questionable data and of timing.

“It smells very political,” Jennings said of the economic study proposed in the Chamber e-mail. “Obviously, the memo suggests both the analysis and its use is preordained. I would think there would be people in the business community who would think better of doing this to the more business-friendly Senate.”

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  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘They might not find a “respected economist” to do this study for them, but I suspect their standards are fairly low on this point.’
    Keep in mind that ‘respected economist’ is a very subjective term. Many economists whose actual theories are open to a varying degree of serious questions are ‘highly respected’ or were in their lifetimes. My collegiate economics professor told me that he felt that Hayek and Friedman were more correct in their interpretation of the technical mechanics of microeconomics than nearly anyone else that one might care to name… but that, once they attempted to develop macroeconomic theory developed on those mechanics alone, their systems totally broke down because the mechanics of microeconomics do not exist in a vaccuum free from what he called ‘contamination by real life.’
    Yet even many Keynesians had a great deal of respect for Friedman and Keynes himself had a great deal of respect for Hayek. That did not make monetarist or Austrian theories right, no matter how ‘highly respected’ their originators were.

  2. 2
    libhomo says:

    The  Chamber of Commerce always has been corrupt.  They also are equally racist, sexist, and heterosexist, constantly fighting against civil rights legislation.

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