Thursday, December 3, 2009

Public Issues, Poor Decisions

Tyler Cowen offers some words of wisdom:

Breaking a three-day stalemate, the Senate approved an amendment to its health care legislation that would require insurance companies to offer free mammograms and other preventive services to women.

The vote was 61 to 39, with three Republicans joining 56 Democrats and the two independents in favor.
This happened directly after the release of evidence showing that many mammograms do not pass a comparative effectiveness test. Once the test became a public issue at all . . . well, now you see what happens. CBO, take note.

In fact, as I've noted before, the Congressional Budget Office has already weighed in on the issue of preventative services:

Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.

I'm sure that President Obama sincerely believes in comparative effectiveness research as a vehicle for cost-control. But the president doesn't rule by fiat.

Unfortunately, Members of Congress are beholden to ill-informed, self-interested constituents, who demand ineffective services . . . especially when they don't have to pay for those services directly.

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