Monday, February 27, 2012

Gorman Critiques HA on Massachusetts

Linda Gorman of the Independence Institute critiques a recent Health Affairs article praising the RomneyCare plan in Massachusetts.

In "What Were They Thinking at Health Affairs?", she debunks several misleading arguments from the Health Affairs piece.

Gorman notes:
Unfortunately, in several cases the authors fail to inform readers that their results are contradicted by other, possibly more reliable, sources of information. They also neglect to put some of their results in proper context. Some examples:

* Failing to mention that although the nonelderly adults in the telephone survey samples reported a drop in emergency department (ED) use from 2006 to 2010, data from other reputable sources suggest that total ED visits have risen.

* Failing to mention that the "strong and sustained gains in the share of nonelderly adults in Massachusetts who reported their health as very good or excellent" are similar to the gains reported by all American adults.

* Misrepresenting the historical record with the claim that the "Massachusetts 2006 health reform initiative did not tackle the high cost of health care in the state." Readily available sources clearly show that reform proponents expected it to reduce health care costs.

* Asserting that "access to health care in the community is better than it was in 2006," without reporting on evidence that contradicts this conclusion.

* Inappropriately limiting the definition of "affordability" to out-of-pocket expenses, while ignoring higher premiums, fees, and taxes.

* Concluding that the survey evidence "is suggestive of important improvements in the effectiveness of the delivery of health care in the state" and implying that this is due to RomneyCare despite noting, three times on one page, that "our data did not allow us to isolate the impact of reform from that of changes in other factors during the study period."
RomneyCare supporters are still trying to spin the Massachusetts plan as a success. Fortunately, not everyone is buying that spin.