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Friday, November 4, 2011

Wall Street Journal Criticizes NY Mandate

The Wall Street Journal has criticized New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing the autism insurance bill, arguing that it adds to a long list of costly mandates.
Mr. Cuomo's autism mandate is especially instructive because the same debate is about to be exported to the other 49 states under the Affordable Care Act. Regulators are now defining the "essential health benefits" that all insurers must cover, and they outsourced a preliminary study to the Institute of Medicine. IOM cautioned in its report last month that—gosh—the government will have some difficulty reconciling "the tensions between comprehensiveness and affordability."

This point always seems to be lost on the political class that won't have to bear the costs, or be forced to choose between health plans that are more expensive than they need to be or no coverage at all. When Governor Jerry Brown signed a California autism mandate last month, he put out a statement saying that "there are questions about effectiveness, duration, and the cost of covered treatments that must be sorted out," which is what is supposed to be happen before the government makes a decision.

Unlike Mr. Brown, Mr. Cuomo has built a reputation in his first year as Governor as a rational and thoughtful Democrat, but he sometimes undermines that image when politically convenient. His predecessor, David Patterson, vetoed an autism mandate because it was too costly. For the sake of New York, let's hope Mr. Cuomo's reversal isn't becoming a habit.