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HHS Undertakes Massive Review of Rules, Regulations

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 31, 2011

Under orders from the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services is setting out to review and update virtually every one of its rules and regulations. The effort is part of a government-wide initiative to create a simpler and smarter regulatory system that will annually save, according to government estimates, tens of millions of hours red tape, and billions of dollars in regulatory costs.

HHS released on Thursday its 89-page Preliminary Plan for Retrospective Review, which details the regulations to be modified and reviewed.

In the report HHS sets several goals for the review, including making the regulatory process more clear and providing a foundation for future regulatory decisions. HHS plans to increase transparency in its regulatory process by making available, when possible, information that stakeholders might need to understand the basis for a proposed regulation. Among the initiatives HHS will consider to achieve this goal:

  • Add a link to the HHS home page to allow an interactive, easy-to-navigate single entry portal to link to specific regulations.
  • Increase the use of regulations.gov to encourage public comment on proposed rules and rules subject to retrospective review.
  • Use a single regulation identification number to track regulations and one docket to manage regulatory action. The docket would include supplemental information to help the public understand the basis for the review of a regulation or a proposed change.

HHS has divided the review initiative into several broad categories, including conditions for participation, changing technology, recordkeeping requirements, pre-market review, and quality.

In a press statement, HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr confirmed that the review process will be ongoing. “Today’s report highlights many more opportunities for reform. We have redoubled our long-standing effort and commitment to making regulatory review an integral part of our operations and culture.”

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