What McKinsey & Company has to hide

An outfit called McKinsey & Company released a report this week making all kinds of discouraging claims about the Affordable Care Act. According to the study, nearly a third of American businesses will stop offering health coverage to their employees as a result of the new reform law. Several news outlets pounced on the release of the report, as did many Republicans.

The White House’s Nancy-Ann DeParle, in a rather understated response, urged caution.

A central goal of the Affordable Care Act is to reduce the cost of providing health insurance and make it easier for employers to offer coverage to their workers. We have implemented the law at every step of the way to minimize disruption and maximize affordability for businesses, workers, and families. And we agree with experts who project that employers will continue to offer high quality benefits to their workers under the new law. This one discordant study should be taken with a grain of salt.

That’s putting it mildly.

McKinsey claims to have done a survey of 1,300 employers. How was it conducted? We don’t know and McKinsey hasn’t said. What were the questions? We don’t know and McKinsey hasn’t said. How were the employers chosen? We don’t know and McKinsey hasn’t said. What were the statistical breakdowns among businesses of different sizes? We don’t know and McKinsey hasn’t said.

Who funded the study? We don’t know and McKinsey hasn’t said.

Kate Pickert noticed a small tidbit in the report: McKinsey acknowledged having “educated” those participating in the survey. And what, pray tell, did the company say to respondents that might have affected the results? You guessed it: we don’t know and McKinsey hasn’t said.

Politico added today that it “asked really nicely” to at least see the questionnaire McKinsey used to conduct the employers survey, but the company refused.

Raise your hand if you think the McKinsey & Company report has some credibility problems.

But here’s the angle to keep an eye on. How soon will Republican talking points simply incorporate this highly dubious claim into all arguments about health care policy? That’s usually how this game works — sketchy outfit tells the GOP what it wants to hear; Dems point out how baseless the claim is, and the media presents the information in a he-said-she-said format, leaving the public to think “both sides” have merit.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear a Republican claim on television, “We recently learned that a third of American businesses will stop ensuring their workers.” It won’t be true, but that won’t matter.

* edited for clarity