Obama Fact-Check: Birth Control Mandate Offers No Savings

Friday, 17 Feb 2012 01:42 PM

By David A. Patten

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The HHS panel that recommended requiring that insurance companies and faith-based institutions to provide controversial reproductive services, including the morning-after abortion pill, did not base its decision on cost savings as represented by President Barack Obama on national television, according to a CNSNews report.

“Doctors often prescribe contraception as a way to reduce the risks of ovarian and other cancers, and treat a variety of different ailments,” Obama said. “And we know that the overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.”

But it turns out that the explicit instructions from Department of Health and Human Services to The Committee on Preventive Services for Women, the panel of health-care experts who developed the “preventive services” mandate, precluded cost effectiveness as a consideration. The panel’s subsequent report noted this stipulation repeatedly.

“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,” the committee reported.

According to CNSNews, one economist dissented from the panel’s report, suggesting the guidelines might not prove cost effective.

Economist Anthony Lo Sasso of the University of Illinois at Chicago served on the panel, and said later its recommendations were based on “a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy.”

Although the panel was specifically restricted from considering the cost impact of preventive services, President Obama cited that objective criterion for the administration’s rules. “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 cheater to prevent an illness than to treat one.”

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