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Americans for Tax Reform today submitted comments to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging Secretary Xavier Becerra to withdraw the proposed rule to repeal the SUNSET rule.

To read the full letter, click here.

The HHS proposed a rule in late October entitled “Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely; Proposal To Withdraw or Repeal,” as published in the Federal Register.

This proposed rule would withdraw or repeal a final rule entitled “Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely” (SUNSET final rule), published in the Federal Register of January 19, 2021. The SUNSET final rule establishes important regulatory reform by requiring HHS rules to expire five years after the SUNSET rule became effective, ten years after a regulation’s promulgation, or ten years after the last year the HHS assessed and reviewed the rule.

Simply, the SUNSET rule is needed to address the mass of outdated regulations by providing a pathway to update, modernize, and eliminate red tape and help promote a healthcare system that provides Americans with high quality, patient-centered care.

Repealing the SUNSET rule would ensure Americans continue to be subject to costly, burdensome regulations. Because HHS imposes rules on health care providers, new regulations not only cost money, but could cost lives. Americans spend an estimated $1.9 trillion a year complying with regulations, meaning the average U.S. household’s estimated federal regulatory burden is at least $14,455 annually.

If the American people are forced to comply with this significant regulatory burden, it is not unreasonable to expect the federal government to ensure its rules are not unnecessarily burdensome.

The SUNSET Rule ensures the HHS is compliant with existing laws to review its rules. Federal agencies should already be performing these reviews. The SUNSET final rule is consistent with Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), in which Congress required federal agencies to establish a plan to review its rules within ten years.

The SUNSET rule simply establishes an enforcement mechanism to the longstanding Section 610 of the RFA. The agency’s claim that the rule would be a far too great a burden suggests that the Department had not been complying with Section 610. An estimated 85 percent of HHS regulations created before 1990 have not been edited or updated, so this deregulatory action is long overdue.

Medical technology and knowledge have been rapidly evolving in the past 30 years. Rules created 30 years ago are likely out of date or could be significantly improved upon.

Requiring retrospective review of regulations is commonsense and bipartisan. This type of regulatory reform has been supported by every Democrat and Republican president in the last four decades before this administration. For instance, in 1981 President Reagan signed Executive Order 12291, which ordered agencies to “review existing regulations” in view of cost-benefit principles and potential alternatives.

In 2001, President George W. Bush released a report to Congress that reviewed how to assess the costs and benefits of existing federal regulations, including their aggregate costs. In addition, President Obama signed Executive Order No. 13563, which ordered agencies “to facilitate the periodic review of existing significant regulations . . . to promote retrospective analysis of rules that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned.”

The proposal from HHS to withdraw the SUNSET rule would allow the agency to continue its noncompliance with Section 610. This will be a huge lost opportunity to make sure regulations are efficient, modern, and are not overly burdensome to the American people.