Price Waterhouse and Big Tobacco - Rolling Stone
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Price Waterhouse and Big Tobacco

There’s a big scary new study out today from the health insurance lobby and PricewaterhouseCoopers purporting to show that the Senate Finance Committee’s reform bill — funded by new excise taxes on “Cadillac” health plans — would cause future health insurance premiums to spiral out of control.

Before this genie gets too far out of the bottle, just consider the track record of such industry-funded excise tax “research” by Price Waterhouse.

In the early 1990s, Price Waterhouse did similar handiwork on behalf of Big Tobacco, serving up allegedly hard data to bolster arguments that a new excise tax on tobacco (a proposed mechanism to fund Clintoncare) would destroy hundreds of thousands of good American jobs.

Dire predictions. But a subsequent review of Price Waterhouse’s methods by an independent team at Arthur Andersen, revealed that Price Waterhouse’s “grossly exaggerated” and “one-sided analyses” were so “flawed” as to produce “patently unreliable results.”

To wit:

“The PW Report relied on methods and assumptions that create false and misleading results.”


“There are serious methodological problems and errors of omission (one-sided analyses likely to lead to misinterpretation) in … the PW Report”


“The PW Report… attributes 161,601 mining and construction jobs to the tobacco industry. This is approximately equal to the entire employment of the coal mining industry.”


“These and other serious flaws in the Price Waterhouse Report and the Tobacco Institute Estimates build upon one-another in a cumulative fashion to present grossly exaggerated and misleading estimates.”

“The cumulative effect of PW’s methods… is to produce patently unreliable results.”


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