Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“We Told You So” on Contraception Mandate

Summary documents of the Institute of Medicine’s report on female preventive services were released today.  (The full report won’t be released until tomorrow morning.)  The recommendations include one suggesting that HHS should require coverage, without cost-sharing, of “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

However, as my missive from February notes, the New York Times reported at that time that the Administration already knew contraceptive services would be covered before the IOM report was even announced:

Administration officials said they expected the list [of required benefits] to include contraception and family planning because a large body of scientific evidence showed the effectiveness of those services.  But the officials said they preferred to have the panel of independent experts make the initial recommendations so the public would see them as based on science, not politics.

So the Administration told the New York Times in February that contraceptive services would be covered – and that the IOM study was being used solely to provide political cover to the Administration for a decision that had already been made.  And – surprise, surprise! – July’s IOM report did just that.  Like I said, “We Told You So…”

The other issue with the IOM’s recommendations is the way in which these new benefit mandates will raise premiums.  The expansive nature of the mandates (e.g., “the full range” of contraceptive methods), and the fact that some of the mandates (e.g., “comprehensive lactation support and counseling”) may not be covered currently means they will raise premium costs for businesses – and ultimately for all Americans.  Candidate Obama promised to cut premiums by $2,500 for the average American family – and the new benefit mandates proposed today will only undermine that promise still further.