Ways and Means Chairs Blast HHS Deliberately Destructive Deregulation Spree

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December 1, 2020
Statements

 

Doggett, Pascrell, Davis demand Azar rescind destructive measure seemingly designed to sabotage government and threaten Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health insurance

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, and Danny Davis (D-IL-07), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support have written to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar lambasting his move to open the floodgates for HHS regulations to expire.

 

Under this dubious measure, HHS will have two years to review any rules that are more than 10 years old. This change could negatively impact an enormous number of rules, as HHS estimates that roughly 2,480 rulemakings would need to be reviewed during the two-year window. Any rule that does not get reviewed will automatically expire. The measure is seemingly designed to sabotage efficient governance and will wreak havoc on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

 

“Relying on a dubious interpretation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Administrative Procedure Act [would] allow most Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) regulations to expire unless HHS affirmatively reviews the regulation and decides it should be maintained. This sweeping and improper change would waste resources, undermine smooth program operation, and force the next Administration to divert resources away from addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” the chairmen write Azar.

 

The chairmen note that HHS’s move violates congressional intent and that if “Congress desired to change the operations of HHS programs under current regulations, Congress would pass new laws to be enacted by the President.”

 

The text of the members’ letter is provided below.

 

 

November 30, 2020

 

The Honorable Alex M. Azar II

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington DC 20201

 

Dear Secretary Azar,

 

We write in strong objection to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM or “proposed rule”), entitled Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely, as posted to the Federal Register on November 4, 2020. 

 

Relying on a dubious interpretation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the NPRM seeks to allow most Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) regulations to expire unless HHS affirmatively reviews the regulation and decides it should be maintained. This sweeping and improper change would waste resources, undermine smooth program operation, and force the next Administration to divert resources away from addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The Committee on Ways & Means has jurisdiction over a significant number of HHS programs and policies that promote the health, safety, wellbeing, and economic security of millions of Americans. The proposal to automatically sunset a host of HHS regulations is deeply troubling and contrary to Congressional intent, as carried out through long- and properly- established regulations implementing laws passed by Congress in the past. If Congress desired to change the operations of HHS programs under current regulations, Congress would pass new laws to be enacted by the President.

 

Furthermore, this NPRM is unnecessarily burdensome as the abrupt sunsetting of rules governing program operations could impose substantial new requirements or eliminate requirements currently ensuring smooth operation, which would be disruptive to stakeholders currently providing care and harmful to the American people who rely on key programs that HHS administers. As such, this proposed rule is neither in the best interest of our constituents nor the beneficiaries of these many programs. We ask that you immediately rescind the NPRM.

 

Sincerely,

 

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