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Tunnel Vision
The Paul Ruskin Public Awareness Campaign

The Washington Post and Kaiser, Part Two: Tom Graham Does It Again

Let’s have a look at Tom Graham’s column in the Health section on October 7, 2003 entitled “How Did Your Plan Do?” It consists of ten paragraphs. Here we go.

Para 1. Graham introduces the topic: “We look at ratings earned by managed care organizations.”

Para 2. Graham targets the Maryland Health Care Commission’s 2003 Consumer Guide (Measuring the Quality of Maryland HMOs and POS Plans) as “the most helpful report.” (I agree with that, but let’s not forget the disclaimer it carries-----see our website.)

Para 3. Graham is still on target, with a brief quote from Barbara Gill McLean, the Commission’s Executive Director.

Para 4. Graham is still on target, listing the health plans covered in the Guide.

Para 5. Graham is still on target, reporting that the Commission gave Kaiser 10 “stars,” which is very favorable. (page 3 in the Guide)

Para 6. Graham is still on target; Kaiser scores well in “How Do Members Rate Their Health Plan?” (page 4 in the Guide)

Para 7. Graham is still on target with the Guide, talking about preventive care for children, but does not specifically mention Kaiser. (page 8 in the Guide)

Para 8. Graham is still on target, reporting that Kaiser did best of all plans studied in diabetes care. (page 12 in the Guide)

Para 9. UH-OH! Graham’s aim is getting shaky. Has he run out of favorable things to say about Kaiser? Recall paragraph 7 wherein Kaiser was not mentioned; now Graham returns to that study entitled “How Well Do Plans Provide Important Preventive Services for Children.” The study has four parts, but, based upon only two of them, Graham now reports “Kaiser was the top performer on this test.” He does not tell us that on the other two parts, “Well-Child Visits for Infants and Children” and “Well Child Visits for Adolescents” Kaiser scored below average.(page 8 in the Guide)

Para 10. RUN FOR COVER! Graham’s changing targets altogether; he’s not even LOOKING at the Maryland Health Care Commission’s Consumer Guide anymore! He’s trained his pen on Consumer Reports now. They both have “CONSUMER” in their names; maybe he thinks we won’t notice! Graham reports that “based on feedback from more than 42,000 of the magazine’s subscribers, the local Kaiser Permanente plan landed in the top tier of HMOs.”

Why didn’t Graham just stick to his original target, the Maryland Health Care Commission’s 2003 Consumer Guide, and report on the study entitled “HOW DO MEMBERS RATE THE HEALTH CARE THEY RECEIVE?”

Is it because Kaiser scored NEXT-TO-WORST?

That’s page 6 in the Guide, Tom.