'Ticking time bomb' could invalidate thousands of health regulations, lawsuit says

A coalition of health groups and others sued HHS March 9 over a Trump administration rule that was finalized the day before President Joe Biden's inauguration. 

The lawsuit, pending in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, alleges that thousands of HHS regulations could disappear because of the Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely, or SUNSET, rule. The rule requires HHS to review its existing 18,000 regulations within several years. If the review isn't completed, the rule automatically expires, according to NPR

"The rule does not even specify which of the department's 18,000 existing regulations are exempted under the limited exceptions. In other words, the outgoing administration planted a ticking time bomb set to go off in five years unless HHS, beginning right now, devotes an enormous amount of resources to an unprecedented and infeasible task," the complaint states. 

The complaint further alleges that the rule exceeds the authority of HHS and creates uncertainty and instability in the U.S. healthcare system at a time when the public needs clear guidelines because of the pandemic. 

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the rule is arbitrary and capricious and to vacate it. 

The plaintiffs are Santa Clara County, Calif., the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the American Lung Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the California Tribal Families Coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

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