Healthcare Countdown: Biden’s Deadline Dilemma

United States President Joe Biden
United States President Joe Biden. Credit | REUTERS

United States: Elections are on edge in the United States, and the Biden administration has only two weeks to finish the health policy regulations on Medicaid, reproductive care, and tobacco in other vital areas, and it has to avoid any chance of them being cancelled by the next Congress.

If the Republicans win the election, a GOP congress and president could cancel Biden’s agenda using the Congressional Review Act, a rule formed in 1996 to prevent “Midnight Rulemaking.”

.Meanwhile, when Trump was newly elected in 2017, he used the CRA (Congressional Review Act) to strike 16 Obama administration rules, including the Health and Human Services regulation on Title X family planning grants and many more.

Furthermore, the new Congress has a “lookback period” to review the rules implemented by the previous administration. These rules are submitted within 60 legislative or session days of the last Congress’s adjournment.

The process is very simple: To strike any regulation, it would take a majority in both chambers and the signature on a resolution of disapproval.

The government is trying to change some norms, such as crosshairs regarding nursing home staffing, a ban on menthol cigarettes, and limiting the disclosure of information related to reproductive care.

According to the National Health Law Program, the other efforts would eventually reduce discrimination against or increase care for the low-income and underserved population.

Congress’s ever-changing schedule makes it unclear when rules that won’t be subject to the lookback will be issued. However, most people agree it should be from Memorial Day until mid-May.

Prominent Republicans said they wouldn’t think twice about using the CRA if the administration attempted to evade Congress’s intentions, but they didn’t name any potential targets.

 “There’s no doubt that this is a means if a legislative priority fails to pass or become law,” stated Rep Brett Guthrie, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee.

As any regulation announced after Memorial Day may be vulnerable to invalidation, the administration will likely become more urgent in finalizing its rules, according to Leigh Feldman, director of health policy at McDermott Consulting.

 “We’re really in the crunch season for the next month of finalizing regs to clear them of that CRA threat,” Feldman stated.