HHS withdraws unpopular regulatory review rule

HHS has formally withdrawn a rule that would have required the department to widely review its regulations and potentially void a number of them.

HHS issued a final rule May 26 withdrawing the Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely, or SUNSET rule.

The rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19, 2021, a day before President Joe Biden's inauguration. The policy was slated to take effect on March 22, 2021. However, amid pushback over the rule, HHS postponed the final rule until Sept. 22 of this year.

If implemented, the rule would have significantly altered department operations and negatively affected stakeholders, HHS said in its Federal Register notice withdrawing the rule.

"The SUNSET final rule is expansive in scope and impact, faced considerable opposition from stakeholders (and very little support), and lacked a public health or welfare rationale for expediting rulemaking," the department said.

HHS also said the department "found that the rule rested on flawed assumptions and analysis."

The department added: "We now conclude that the SUNSET final rule likely underestimated to a significant degree the resources needed for the required undertaking. In particular, because the implementation of the SUNSET final rule would have required a significant expenditure of resources, the department would have been forced to make resource allocation decisions that would have impeded the department's routine operations and hampered its ability to carry out other key priorities and goals."

The rule would have required HHS to void existing regulations after 10 years unless the department reviewed them and could justify keeping them.

The American Hospital Association and other health groups sued HHS in March 2021 to overturn the final rule.

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