Clinton’s Record Pace for Regulations Elicits Criticism
The Clinton administration's effort to issue several new regulations -- including several health care-related rules -- before a new president takes office on Jan. 20 is drawing criticism from Republican quarters, the Los Angeles Times reports. Included in the new regulations are rules for electronic medical records that would enact "[t]ighter privacy standards" (Rosenblatt/Shogren, Los Angeles Times, 11/26). The regulations, while not giving patients a broad new right to sue HMOs and medical providers for breaches of privacy, will mark the first time consumers will have a federal right to inspect and copy information in their medical records, and will also have the right to request correction of data they believe to be inaccurate or incomplete. Another planned regulation is the "blacklisting from federal contracts of companies accused of violating federal labor, environmental and health laws." According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Clinton administration is on pace to break the record number of new regulations set by Jimmy Carter's administration.
These rules have "the force of law" and a new president can modify or repeal them only by ordering "new rule-making processes," which could "take months or even years." The Clinton administration's "avalanche" of new regulations has left some Republicans "fuming." Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) said, "The Clinton administration's approach to government can be summed up in three words: rules, rules, rules. ... These last-ditch efforts are the last gasps of an administration bent on increasing the size and scope of government at every level." One of the more "intens[e]" debates surrounding new regulations surfaced when the Clinton administration promulgated final ergonomics rules earlier this month, a decision hailed by labor unions and denounced by business groups (Los Angeles Times, 11/26).