January 9, 2012

Beware the Rush to Presumption, Part C

A Public Choice Analysis of the Affordable Care Act's Interim Final Rules
Key materials
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Federal agencies issued eight major interim final regulations in 2010 to quickly implement major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Our previous reviews found that the regulatory impact analyses for these regulations were seriously incomplete, often omitting significant benefits, costs, or regulatory alternatives. Analysis of equity was cursory at best. For these eight regulations, the quality and use of regulatory analysis fell well below the standards set by other federal agencies and even by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This paper demonstrates that the low-quality analysis was a predictable result of the way that the administration and Congress chose to manage the regulatory process. Presidential and congressional decisions, in turn, reflected the political incentives both faced in 2010. This suggests that institutional rather than personal factors explain the poor quality of analysis and decisions that occur when agencies implement important presidential priorities in the face of tight legislative deadlines. To promote transparency and informed decision making, additional checks and balances in the regulatory process are needed to prevent politics from short-circuiting analysis.

To read the other papers in this study, please see: "Beware the Rush to Presumption: Regulatory Analysis and the Affordable Care Act's Interim Final Rules."