What You Can Do For Your Country

A recent article in The Washington Post reminded us of one of our pet peeves – people relying on studies or reports as incontrovertible fact without checking the background of the person or organization making the report.

The Post article pointed out that Representative Eric Cantor, House Republican whip, and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch both cited the Lewin Group as “nonpartisan” when speaking out against proposed Democratic health care change legislation.

The Lewin report predicted that 100 million people would go off the rolls of private, employer-sponsored health coverage if a version of a health bill was made into law. This was seized on immediately by opponents of new health care legislation and cited time and time again as an “independent” study. (The Congressional Budget Office came to an entirely different conclusion after a study. The CBO estimated that enrollment in a public plan would involve only 11 to 12 million people.

What was unsaid by Mr. Cantor and Mr. Hatch was that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest health insurers. Further, Lewin is a part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary which was accused in New York for skewing doctors’ fee data to save health insurers millions in out-of-network insurance payments to policyholders. (Earlier this year, United Healthgroup agreed to a $50 million settlement with New York State on this issue).

This is a “nonpartisan” organization when it comes to health insurance issues? We think

With the health care battle entering its final stages, it becomes more and more important for people trying to untangle the complicated issues in health care coverage to take the statements of each side with several “grains of salt”. This is particularly true when either side makes a statement based on an “incontrovertible” source for its information. It is up to us the listeners to delve further into relationships and history to see if the claim of independence of judgment really holds up.

But, this holds true for more than just the present most important health care battle. Whenever a claim is made that raises any doubts, the listener should take it with a grain of salt. Who made the claim? Whom does the claim benefit? Who paid for the study upon which the claim is purportedly based? Are there relationships which might cast doubt on the veracity of the claim?


Prime examples are advertising endorsements. Without an affidavit as to how much the endorser received for providing the endorsement, who can believe in it? Yet, many people must or else the ad agencies wouldn’t spend so much time and money on them.

The upcoming health care decisions in Congress are vital to the future of America. Each person has a vital interest in the outcome. There will be many “nonpartisan” claims made by both sides. Get out your salt shaker and investigate them yourself.

The future of yourself, your family and your country truly depend on it.


Don't Overlook The Older People

A recent article in the NY Times decried the fact that doctors receive little or no training in treating older patients even as more and more of the population attains advanced age.

Pointing out that 80-year-olds do not always have the same symptoms nor require the same treatment protocols as 50-year-olds, Dr. Roseanne M. Leipzig blamed the lack of knowledge on the startling fact that medical schools do not require training in geriatric medicine.

With more people going into long term care, there is a pressing need for clinical training in geriatrics. According to Dr. Leipzig, patients 65 and older account for 48% of all inpatient hospital days and yet few medical schools offer training in elder care.

The doctor suggests, and we agree, that Medicare, which contributes more than $8 billion a year to support medical residency training, require that part of that residency training focus on the unique health care needs of older persons.

Long term care insurance companies should join in the effort to offer this elder care training which would lead to better medical results and give older people the ability to live on their own longer.

Wider geriatric knowledge in the medical profession would mean better insight to the needs and treatment of older people. This better insight would mean fewer of these people needing long term care facilities.