NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The New Power of the United States Preventive Services Task Force

November 8, 2011

As it gradually becomes more important in terms of health regulation policy, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has begun to bear its fair share of criticism.  Were the Task Force to have maintained its role as an advisory group, it likely would not have gained as much media attention as it has today.  However, with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the authority of the Task Force will be greatly expanded in the realms of policymaking and regulation.  In this light, the failure of the Task Force to meet many basic expectations for regulatory agencies has become a serious problem, says Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The sudden transition that the group made from advisory to regulatory roles has allowed it to avoid many of the checks on regulatory agencies.

  • For example, it does not have to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, nor does it have to obey the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, both of which help to ensure transparency and open involvement of the public.
  • Furthermore, the public has few opportunities to give opinions or make suggestions in the Task Force's decision-making process.
  • The public also has few pathways through which it can appeal its decisions.

All of these shortcomings become particularly important given the new responsibilities and authority that the Task Force will be given with the implementation of the new health care system.  In effect, it will have sole authority in deciding what preventative measures will be covered through government-run care.  In making such crucial assessments, significant public pressure should be put upon the Obama administration and the Task Force in order to ensure that necessary reforms are put in place.

Source: Scott Gottlieb, "The Bleeding Edge of Rationing: Obama's Health Plan and the New Power of the United States Preventive Services Task Force," American Enterprise Institute, November 2011.

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