Friday, June 29, 2012

CNN's Erin Burnett Cherry-Picks Numbers To Attack Health Care Law

by Todd Gregory & Jeremy Holden/Media Matters


CNN's Erin Burnett cherry-picked numbers to claim that the health care reform law was "a massive fail" because medical costs are expected to grow more in 2014 than they did in 2010. 

But the massive fail here is on Burnett: health care costs in 2010 grew at historically low rates as the country emerged from a deep recession, making it an inappropriate point of comparison.
Discussing the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, Burnett claimed that "we're all losers" under the health care reform law because it will not reduce health care spending. Burnett explained:
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health spending in 2010 grew about 3.9 percent from the year before. But in 2014, when the president's health care law takes full effect, spending will jump 7.4 percent.
But the very research that Burnett cited, a June report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, explains that unusually slow cost increases in 2010 was a historic anomaly explained by the recession:
[T]he continuing impact of losses in employment and health insurance coverage associated with the recession helped to limit growth in private spending. Private health insurance spending growth is estimated to have been just 2.6 percent in 2010 as the number of people enrolled in private plans fell by roughly 5 million. Moreover, out-of-pocket spending climbed just 1.8 percent (after 0.4 percent growth in 2009) as many people continued to restrain their use of health care goods and services.
A June 12 Wall Street Journal article reporting on the CMS estimates explained that the 2010 figures were "a short-term trend" tied to the recession:
Consumers have been cutting back on doctors' visits and employers have trimmed insurance since the U.S. first fell into a recession. National health-care spending growth was 3.8% in 2009, the smallest increase on record, and was followed by a similar 3.9% in 2010.
Burnett's massive failure only begins with her cherry picking 2010 for her point of comparison. Her second point of comparison is 2014, which is when CMS researchers said the "largest impact on the growth of health spending is expected to occur."
So Burnett took one of the lowest rates of health spending growth on record and compared it to the year that will bring the largest impact on growth, and declared that everybody loses.
CNN's viewers most certainly did. 
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