The Week in Regulation: July 5-8, 2011

| Regulation | Sam Batkins
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Four days, fourteen major rules, and $6.1 billion in new regulatory burdens.  A short week meant little to federal agencies as two major Affordable Care Act rules, three Dodd-Frank rulemakings, and a pricey EPA final regulation drove up compliance costs this week.  

Administrative agencies proposed 52 rules and implemented 85 final rules this week.  The number of significant documents increased by 15, and there have now been 323 “significant” proposals this year according to the Federal Register. The federal government has issued 40,590 pages of regulations in 2011, including more than 1,600 pages in just four days.    

The headline regulation for the week was an Affordable Care Act (ACA) rule establishing a national guideline for electronic medical records.  The ACA rule modifies previous HIPAA transactions and arrives with huge compliance costs.  According to HHS, the rule could cost providers $855 million, burden health plans with $5.1 billion in new costs, and impose more than $3 million in annual paperwork burdens. 

A final EPA rule establishing new fuel economy labels also comes with a high price tag.  The joint rule (published with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) will apply to all model year 2013 and later vehicles.  The agencies estimate that during the implementation period the rule will cost more than $55 million.

SEC and IRS published Dodd-Frank rulemakings, although without quantified cost-benefit estimates.  The SEC rule provides exemptions under the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 “for certain credit default swaps.”  The IRS proposed rule “provides substitute standards of credit-worthiness” and modifies credit rating regulations under IRS code.   

To date, the total estimated compliance costs from Dodd-Frank remained at $1.26 billion, but of the 140 major rulemakings, only 26 contain quantified cost estimates.

In just four days the federal government has managed to issue more than $6.1 billion in compliance costs, from further burdening hospitals and health care providers, to imposing higher costs for struggling auto companies.  At the current pace, the total regulatory burden for the year will exceed $108.7 billion, with more than 870 major regulations.  Click here for our comprehensive database of regulations promulgated in 2011.