“We're looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation.”
—President Obama, Wall Street Journal op-ed, January 18, 2011
One of the largest regulatory anchors weighing down the economy is the Obama administration’s federal takeover of healthcare. In its attempts to micromanage one-sixth of the $14 trillion-plus economy, simplicity and clarity is apparently not the name of the game for the Department of Health and Human Services. Consider one of its recently-finalized rules, which governs “accountable care organizations,” or networks of doctors and hospitals that are supposed to (voluntarily) collaborate to improve Medicare outcomes and keep taxpayer costs down.
The proposed rule—all 429 pages of it—included the word “require” (or some variant) 601 times, and was promptly met with a cold dose of reality by the American Medical Group Association, a premier industry organization that described the rule as too complex to be achievable. In a letter commenting on the rule, the group said the rule was, “overly prescriptive, operationally burdensome, and the incentives are too difficult to achieve to make this voluntary program attractive.”
Undeterred, President Obama’s regulators went back to the drawing board and returned with a final rule that measured 696 pages (267 pages longer than the original) with 1,064 uses of the word “require” (an increase of 77 percent). Is this the administration’s idea of streamlining regulations to aid job creation?
With more than 10,000 pages of regulations added by the federal takeover of health care, American businesses are suffocating under a blanket of uncertainty from the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda, as this single example demonstrates. Business owners cannot afford to expand or hire without knowing their future liabilities for employees’ health care or when the federal government will impose more costs. As Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee on Health stated, “[T]he best way to reduce costs, relieve regulatory burdens and create jobs is to repeal the healthcare law.”
What are House Republicans doing?
House Republicans are focused on continuing efforts to turn around the Obama economy by passing major elements of the House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators. In addition to those items awaiting action by the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House, one of the agenda items scheduled to be considered in the House is the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, introduced by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY). This legislation would restore Congressional accountability for the regulatory process requiring Congress to take an up-or-down, stand-alone vote, and for the President to sign-off on all new major rules—those with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more—before they can be enforced on job-creating small businesses or State and local governments. The bill is scheduled for mark-up by the House Judiciary Committee this week.