The Regulatory Week in Review: March 10, 2017
IN THE NEWS
- Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled the American Healthcare Act, a long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The plan includes a number of significant changes to the ACA, including eliminating taxes on “prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices,” eliminating the individual and employer mandates, encouraging contributions to Health Savings Accounts, and creating tax credits to enable lower-income individuals to purchase health insurance. The new plan would also keep the ACA’s prohibition on denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and would allow children to remain on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
- President Trump signed a new executive order to implement a revised travel ban, after an earlier order’s implementation was stalled by legal challenges. The new order includes a number of changes from the original—a permanent ban on Syrian refugees was changed to a temporary review period, the ban no longer includes Iraq and does not affect those who currently have visas or are permanent residents, and it does not include a provision favoring any particular religious group. Nonetheless, President Trump’s newest order met almost immediately with a new legal challenge from the state of Hawaii, which is reportedly scheduled to be heard next week.
- The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not decide whether Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student in Virginia, could use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity. In a one-sentence order, the Court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision to overrule the Gloucester Country School Board’s policy that requires students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex, directing the Fourth Circuit to revisit the case in light of the Trump Administration’s recent revocation of guidance issued by the Obama Administration.
- Utilizing the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal three rules issued by the Obama Administration, all of which the House had already voted to repeal. The Senate voted 59-40 to overturn a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Education that aims to ensure new teachers are prepared to enter the classroom. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) reportedly said state-level officials and teachers “were fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about their children,” but Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reportedly warned that the rule actually “helps make sure students can make informed decisions” about education.
- Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is Chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, introduced several “bills aimed at improving the federal rulemaking process so that the final regulation works better for the American people.” Collectively, Sen. Lankford asserted that the proposals, which include requiring agencies to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for major rules at least 90 days before publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking and curtailing when agencies can use guidance documents, will improve efficiency in regulation.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In a recent op-ed, the editors of the conservative National Review criticized the American Healthcare Act, congressional Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The editors asserted that the proposed bill fails to fully repeal the ACA, and therefore leaves too many ACA regulations in place. Although the bill has some positive features, they said—including elimination of many ACA taxes, new tax credits for people to purchase insurance, the possibility to reduce regulation, and a limit on Medicaid contributions by the federal government—the editors nonetheless conclude that, on the whole, “the bill is a disappointment.”
- In a recent piece for NPR, Dan Charles details the debate between farmers and environmentalists over environmental regulations. According to Craig Cox, the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Environmental Working Group, there are simple steps farmers could take to reduce problems like phosphorus runoff into drinking water supplies, however, the farming industry has put up significant efforts to prevent regulation that mandates they take such steps.