Regulators gone wild

John O'Connor
John O'Connor

You probably don't need to be reminded that skilled care is a heavily regulated field. Some say 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, it 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, its findings are hard to ignore.

In the newly released Ten Thousand Commandments: An AnnualSnapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, CEI paints a portrait of rule makers gone wild. Among the report's assertions:

• Some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have 3,297 regulations in development. The top  ve 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 thirdhighest 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.

Clearly, the current pace of new oversight cannot continue. If it does, regulators might soon discover there aren't too many facilities to worry about it.