PWC undercuts AHIP

PWC UNDERCUTS AHIP…. When America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the trade association for private health insurers, released its dire report yesterday on the potential for rising premiums, it probably thought it was going to have a real impact.

It did, but not the one insurers hoped for.

When the pushback against the AHIP report started yesterday, the trade association said it relied on the research of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Last night, the firm undercut its own document.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the authors of AHIP’s report, put out a statement last night that basically said, “Hey, we weren’t paid to evaluate the effects of the entire bill, but rather a small slice of it.” The statement only seems to reinforce critics’ view that the report is skewed precisely because it doesn’t take into account the totality of reform. PWC’s report estimates that insurance premiums will rise faster under the proposed reforms than under the current system.

The last, and key, line from the statement: “If other provisions in health care reform are successful in lowering costs over the long term, those improvements would offset some of the impacts we have estimated.”

In other words, PWC is saying if reform’s cost containment measures work, their estimate could be wrong.

In a nutshell, Democratic policymakers have included measures to lower premiums in the reform proposal. The AHIP report largely pretended those provisions don’t exist, and came to a very misleading conclusion.

Oops.

Remember, for opponents of reform, looking out for the interests of private insurance companies is paramount. Insurers sure are proving themselves worthy of conservatives’ fealty, aren’t they?

Suzy Khimm added, “Activists on the left have long insisted that insurance companies aren’t to be trusted. But up until now, it’s been hard to make the charge stick, since the insurance lobby — a.k.a., America’s Health Insurance Plans — has been cooperating with the White House and its allies. AHIP’s new paper, though, may have changed things. In the last day, the specious claim that reform would raise premiums has provoked a fast and furious response, uniting everybody from the White House to AARP against a common foe. And that unity could have policy implications.”