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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

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.