A word to the regulators: Enough already!

John O'Connor
John O'Connor

You probably don't need to be reminded that skilled care is regulated quite severely. By some estimates, only nuclear power operators must comply with more mandates.

And if it seems like things are getting worse for your facility, well that's because they probably are.

In fact, more than 3,400 federal regulations were issued last year, according to tabulators at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It should be noted upfront that this organization — like so many others in Washington — has an agenda. Clearly, they would like to see the nation's regulatory environment reined in a bit. Well, actually, reined in a lot. But even if you are not simpatico, their data is both compelling and frightening.

In the newly released Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, CEI paints a portrait of rule makers gone wild. It should be required reading by those who bulk up the Federal Register. Although something tells me those are probably the last people who will open its pages.

Among the report's assertions:

  • Some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have 3,297 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The top five federal rulemaking agencies account for 41% of all federal regulations. These are the departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Transportation and, ahem, Health and Human Services.
  • The 2015 Federal Register, where new regulations are introduced and formalized, contains 80,260 pages, its third-highest page count ever.
  • There were 114 laws enacted by Congress last year, compared to 3,410 rules issued by agencies. Put another way, the rules-to-laws ratio was 30-to-1.

The institute claims that federal regulations and related interventions amounted to a $1.8 trillion annual tax last year. Yes, trillion.

“Regulatory costs get little attention in policy debates because, unlike taxes, they are difficult to quantify because they are unbudgeted and often indirect,” says CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr.

But as any operator will tell you, those regulations can get quite costly.

We obviously need rules and regulations to help keep our nation safe. But somewhere along the line, things got more than a little out of whack.

I'm not smart enough to say what the best answer is. But clearly the current pace of new oversight cannot continue. If the regulators don't dial it down a bit, they might soon discover there aren't too many facilities to worry about.

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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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