Regulators’ Math

From: Health Affairs

Valuing Life: Humanizing The Regulatory State By Cass R. Sunstein Chicago (IL): University of Chicago Press, 2014 240 pp., $25.00

Gail R. Wilensky1

In the well-written book Valuing Life, Cass Sunstein, currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University, explains the workings of a relatively small and obscure but key agency in the Office of Management and Budget called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Sunstein’s insights into the workings of OIRA and the many conceptual and empirical challenges the office faces come from his experience as the administrator of OIRA from 2009 to 2012. While most people—including most of my colleagues in the health policy community—have probably never heard of OIRA, I have been very aware of its activities and responsibilities since my time running Medicare and Medicaid as the administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA, now called the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), given the HCFA’s role as a regulatory agency.

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