A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Striking Out on Antitrust

The liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change features the national pastime in a new ad that attacks the insurance industry and calls for competition in the field.

The ad says that "baseball and insurance are the only industries exempt from antitrust law." But that claim is about as accurate as Randy Johnson’s fastball to John Kruk in the 1993 All-Star game. Antitrust exemptions have been granted to quite a few different industries and groups through legislation and judicial review.

Aftermath of a Court Race

Wisconsin ’08 was one of the nastiest state Supreme Court elections in modern history. Incumbent Justice Louis Butler went down to defeat after opponent Mike Gableman and business interests in the state ran slashing, misleading ads portraying him as soft on crime. We criticized the spots in several stories.
Today, Gableman, though sitting on Wisconsin’s highest court, is still fighting a legal battle over whether he lied in one of the ads that helped put him there.

Another Salvo from the Insurance Industry

Just a few days after the release of an insurance industry-backed study that found premiums would go up under the Senate health care bill, another industry-backed report has been published. Both reach the same conclusion about premiums. Both fail to take into consideration certain cost-saving measures in the Finance Committee bill. And both acknowledge that.
In an earlier Wire post, we explained some of the limitations of the first report, drawn up by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the trade group American’s Health Insurance Plans and then flagged as a less-than-adequate evaluation of the bill by PwC itself.

October 15, 2009

The average in-state tuition, room and board at U.S. four-year public colleges and universities was $14,915 for the 2007-08 academic year. That’s more than double the cost in 1990. 
Source: Census Bureau

‘Holiday Tree’ Hooey

Q: Are the Obamas doing away with the White House “Christmas” tree and banning ornaments with religious themes?
A: The traditional Christmas tree will remain, and an e-mail claim about ornaments is unsubstantiated.

AHIP on the Attack: 50 Percent of What?

Almost immediately after releasing an incomplete report on the supposed increase in premiums that the Senate’s health care overhaul bill would trigger, the health insurers’ trade group took to the airwaves with a TV ad claiming the bill would shortchange millions of seniors.

This ad, which is sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans, screams for context.
As we’ve written previously, it’s true that about 10 million seniors are on Medicare Advantage, as the ad says, which means they’ve chosen to get their benefits from a private insurer instead of through the fee-for-service route that 78 percent of Medicare recipients use.

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 6-Oct. 12

This week, readers sent us comments on gas prices, insurance costs, and FactCheck.org’s liberal and conservative biases.
In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

October 14, 2009

Mammography screening rates by state for women aged 40 and older who had a mammogram within the previous year range from 48.7 percent in Oklahoma to 71.4 percent in Massachusetts. 
Source: American Cancer Society

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Premium Problem

It makes for a pretty easy day of fact-checking when the very authors of a less-than-thorough analysis of a bill come out and say, you know, that study wasn’t exactly thorough.
And we didn’t pay them to say that.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main insurance industry lobby, however, did pay PricewaterhouseCoopers to take a look at certain aspects of the Senate Finance Committee health care bill – certain aspects AHIP doesn’t really like. PwC concluded that the bill would increase health care premiums substantially more than they would rise otherwise.

Malpractice: Savings Reconsidered

In 2004 we accused President Bush of using “dubious statistics” to support his claim that limiting malpractice awards to injured patients could save the economy between $60 billion and $108 billion per year. Ever since, we’ve said most independent research indicated little if any savings from limiting malpractice liability, and just a few weeks ago …