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UnitedHealthcare and the Health Care Cost Institute have ended their partnership. Photo: UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealthcare will no longer provide deidentified claims data to the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit group that researches health care spending. Three other health insurers — Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente — still give data and funding to HCCI, but Humana also has signaled it will stop doing so next year.

Between the lines: The medical claims data these insurance companies possess are very valuable, and ending a research agreement aligns more with their financial interests than the broader interest of industry transparency.

What they're saying: Niall Brennan, CEO of HCCI and a former data officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said that "nobody is mandated to be a part of HCCI," but it "was definitely a surprise" to hear UnitedHealthcare was ending their agreement. He directed other questions to the health insurer.

  • UnitedHealthcare said in a statement that it "appreciated the partnership" with HCCI over the past 7 years and that it still shared data with some academic institutions. But the insurer raised broader questions about "data security and privacy."
  • Humana did not immediately respond to interview requests.

Yes, but: All data shared with HCCI is stripped of personal information to protect patient privacy.

  • Financial considerations likely also played a role. Optum, a sister company to UnitedHealthcare, sells data analytics services.

Go deeper

GOP-led Arizona board calls for end to election audit

Ballots are counted at the Maricopa County Election Department after the presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 5. Photo: Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Monday urged the Arizona state Senate's GOP-led audit of its 2020 presidential election results to be called off in a letter Monday.

Why it matters: The letter underscores divisions in the GOP between loyalists of former President Trump and those denouncing baseless election claims, which saw Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) ousted last Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican after speaking out on the matter.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
53 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.