The Regulatory Week in Review: May 6, 2016

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CMS tightens the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment requirements, environmental groups sue EPA over its fracking regulations, and more…

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IN THE NEWS

  • The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule that will tighten the eligibility requirements for those seeking to enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges during the Act’s designated special enrollment periods (which provide enrollment opportunities for those that move outside of one of the Act’s regular open enrollment periods), an action intended to bring the eligibility requirements in line with the special enrollment periods’ purpose—to provide those who relocate with the full range of plan options—and to prevent the alleged abusive practice of individuals moving for the express purpose of acquiring health coverage for which they would otherwise be ineligible, destabilizing the health insurance market in the process.
  • A coalition of environmental groups, including Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Integrity Projectfiled a lawsuit for declaratory and injunctive relief against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in an effort to compel the agency to issue regulations and guidelines concerning hydraulic fracturing—rules that the Environmental Integrity Project argued are needed “now more than ever,” in light of what it says is the enormous amount of wastewater and solid wastes generated by fracking operations, but which EPA has previously asserted have not “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”
  • In response to a host of questions posed by U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, about a recently launched probe into the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) alleged information leak ahead of its contentious vote on a proposal to add Internet access subsidies to Lifeline—a program that provides federal subsidies to help defray the costs of communications services for low-income Americans—, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated his willingness to cooperate with the investigation, explaining in his answers to Thune’s questions that although the FCC did not deliberately disclose any information about the vote at issue, that the agency nonetheless reserves the right “to release nonpublic information when [the agency] thinks it will promote the discussion and understanding of important policy issues” in keeping with its “responsibility to be open and transparent about [its] activities.”
  • In light of reports of pilots’ airspeed discrepancies while flying at high altitudes in inclement weather, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) adopted a new airworthiness directive—a regulation aimed at ameliorating unsafe aviation products—that is intended to address these discrepancies, with the ultimate aim of preventing precipitation from accumulating on airplanes, which has previously led to a reducion in airplanes’ controllability.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews and Ryan Young asserted in an opinion piece in The Hill that the presidential candidates should make a more concerted effort to speak about regulatory issues, and that that their failure to do so thus far has been a “squandered opportunity.” Crews and Young argued that in the face of an increasingly “bloated” federal government— which, they note, in the past year alone has issued 3,410 regulations covering a myriad of issues—and the government’s alleged lack of transparency throughout the rulemaking process, reforms are needed, and that the candidates should seize the chance to speak about implementing such reforms in order to “reduce regulatory harm.”