HHS proposes rule to review and eliminate old regulations

The Trump administration wants HHS to check its regulations every 10 years to see if they’re still needed, according to a proposed rule on Wednesday.

Rules would expire 10 years after HHS issues them if the agency doesn’t assess and, if necessary, review a rule “in a timely manner,” HHS said in a statement. The agency would carry out more detailed reviews of regulations that have significant economic effects on many small entities.

“With HHS regulatory responsibilities as wide-ranging as food safety, drug approval, adoption and childcare and healthcare financing, it’s essential that we know—and inform the American people—whether we’re executing on these responsibilities in a way that maximizes benefits, minimizes costs and keeps up with the times,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

The proposed rule would subject most regulations to a two-step review. HHS would first decide whether a regulation has a significant economic impact on a large number of small entities. If it does, the agency will review: whether the rule is still needed; complaints about it; its complexity; if it duplicates or conflicts with other regulations; and whether the agency should rework or withdraw it because of technological, economic or legal changes.

HHS would have two years to change or withdraw a regulation if its review concludes it should do either.

“When agencies impose regulations, they make projections about the regulation’s impact on the public. Once a rule has been in place, agencies should test those projections and see what real-world impact the regulation is having and amend or rescind if appropriate. This proposed rule would incentivize HHS to conduct these performance reviews of its regulations to ensure that rules are delivering the benefits projected in view of the best available science, data and evidence,” HHS said in a statement.

The agency estimates it would cost $10 to $26 million to carry out the policy change over the next 10 years.

The rule is part of President Donald Trump’s broader deregulatory agenda. Trump signed an executive order in January 2017, directing federal agencies to take two deregulatory steps for each regulation they create. According to the White House budget office, HHS took 46 deregulatory actions and 18 regulatory actions from 2017 to 2019.

Comments on the proposed rule are due Jan. 4.

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