This should be a surprise, but it isn’t

Obama Contradicted: HHS Banned Determining Whether Mandate Was ‘Cost Effective’

By Terence P. Jeffrey

( – There would be no consideration of cost effectiveness.

That was the explicit condition that the Department of Health and Human Services imposed on the panel of health-care experts it commissioned to develop the “preventive services” mandate that will require virtually all health-insurance plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and contraceptives—including those that cause abortions.

The fact that HHS prohibited the panel from considering the cost effectiveness of the mandate it developed contradicts President Obama’s declaration at the White House last Friday that his administration had adopted the panel’s recommendations precisely because they will “make the overall cost of health care lower”

One economist who served on the panel, meanwhile, suggested in a dissenting opinion that the panel’s recommendations in fact might not be cost effective and that the panel’s process for arriving at its recommendations “tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy.”

My thanks to Chuck Serio for the reference. Much more at the link, in which the article author noted that the commission met only five times in the six months it had to complete its work, and that the committee report directly stated that, “The cost-effectiveness of screening or services could not be a factor for the committee to consider in its analysis leading to its recommendations,” “However, it should be noted that the committee did not have adequate time or resources to conduct its own meta-analyses or comprehensive systematic review of each preventive service,” and “Finally, cost-effectiveness was explicitly excluded as a factor that the committee could use in developing recommendations, and so the committee process could not evaluate preventive services on that basis.”

President Obama said:

As part of the health care reform law that I signed last year, all insurance plans are required to cover preventive care at no cost. That means free check-ups, free mammograms, immunizations and other basic services. We fought for this because it saves lives and it saves money–for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody. That’s because it’s a lot cheaper to prevent an illness than to treat one.

We also accepted a recommendation from the experts at the Institute of Medicine that when it comes to women, preventive care should include coverage of contraceptive services such as birth control. In addition to family planning, doctors often prescribe contraception as a way to reduce the risks of ovarian and other cancers, and treat a variety of different ailments. And we know that the overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.

Apparently, what “we know” was determined not by by scientific study, but by political fiat. It is entirely possible that providing artificial contraception, without any co-payments, is less expensive for insurance companies than covering childbirth throughout a woman’s reproductive years. But it is also possible that requiring a $10 a month co-payment would also be less expensive, and that requiring a $10 per month co-payment would not deny women access to contraceptive services. All that we do know is that the commission wasn’t allowed to use scientific studies on which to base their recommendations.

And that tells you that the whole commission idea was a waste of time. The regulations, if they were going to be politically determined and not scientifically studied, could have been formulated by a couple of HHS staffers in a couple of nights over take-out Szechuan chicken and shrimp lo mein. The Obama Administration wanted to make it all seem like a well-thought-out and conscientiously deliberated set of regulations, but they were never more than a political determination, and were never going to be anything but a political determination.

Why? Well, that’s obvious: our very-nobly-intended experts on the left simply know more than we do, and ought to, by right of their own superiority, determine what is good for us, regardless of whether we agree.

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