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Report: White House Created Problems by Fast-Tracking Obamacare Rules

Image: Report: White House Created Problems by Fast-Tracking Obamacare Rules

Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 10:25 AM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

The White House fast-tracked many proposed Obamacare regulations, with rules clearing a key bureaucratic hurdle three-to-five times faster than normal, and failed to review several significant measures, according to a new report by the American Action Forum.

"Just as the speed of the procurement process for Healthcare.gov has produced unintended consequences and repeated failures, the speed of the regulatory review has created problems that have necessitated changes and delays of provisions of the law," said Sam Batkins, the report's author.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the White House office that reviews proposed and final rules, averaged 110 days to review a typical administration rule, while the average review time for Affordable Care Act (ACA) final rules was just 29 days, the report said.

Significant ACA rules — those with an annual impact of $100 million or more — actually got less scrutiny, just 20 days, the report found.

AAF's analysis determined that, by comparison, the average time to review significant Environmental Protection Agency rules was 100 days and the average review time for Department of Education rules was 34 days.

Batkins said his analysis found the White House failed to review seven significant ACA proposals, including measures to amend Medicare Advantage and to implement Medical Loss Ratios.

"Current ACA implementation was constructed by regulations often hurried through OIRA with little review. After leaving the White House three-to-five times faster than the average regulations, it's no wonder the administration has issued more than 250 corrections and mea culpa after mea culpa for the Affordable Care Act," the report said in its conclusion.

Batkins said the amount of review time has a major impact on the quality of the rule.

"It plays a huge role in the quality of the regulations. When you have quick or little review of the regulations you are not able to lay out the consequences for either the public or experts," Batkins told Newsmax. "Poor analysis often results in poor rules."

Batkins said that rules related to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform had far longer review times than those related to Obamacare, even though the number of rules was greater for the financial law than the healthcare measure.

The consequences of the administration's aggressive pace were exposed in a November report by AAF that showed Obamacare rules were three times more error-prone than those related to implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The error rate is especially consequential because Obamacare is a law impacting roughly 15 percent of the economy, Batkins said.

The earlier AFF report showed the consequences of the administration placing a priority on speed, rather than on accuracy.

AAF documented in the November report that more than one-third of Obamacare promulgated regulations had to be amended or rewritten due to errors. There are more than 254 errors in original ACA regulations, the report said.

AAF is a center-right think tank founded in 2010, whose president is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and economic adviser to President George W. Bush.

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