Lewin faces conflict of interest questions in Colorado

A consultant picked to analyze health reform proposals in Colorado has come under fire for potential conflicts of interest due to its connection to health plan operator UnitedHealth Group.

The consulting firm, The Lewin Group of Falls Church, Va., was picked earlier by a state commission on health reform earlier to evaluate four proposals. Later in the year, however, Lewin was acquired by Ingenix, a health IT vendor owned by UnitedHealth. UHG's UnitedHealth Care insures more than 850,000 individuals in the state, giving it a vested interest in shaping reform proposals to its liking. (It also didn't help matters that many physicians have questioned how Ingenix, which provides a commonly-used billing system, reports data to health plans.)

Lewin managed to turn things around when it met with the Colorado Medical Society and the Colorado Hospital Association. Execs with Lewin assured the two groups that all documents related to the research would be public, making it less likely that UHG could exert undue influence. However, concerns about Lewin's alleged bias linger. Other critics, looking at Lewin's work in other states, have suggested that the firm is biased toward single-payor reform models.

To learn more about the controversy:
- read this article from The Denver Business Journal

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