Of the ACA regulations with legal deadlines, 47 percent, 20 of 42, have broken the mandated implementation schedule.
“The Secretary shall…” language in legislation often allows legislators to cede broad policymaking authority to administrative agencies. In significant regulatory overhauls, such as Dodd-Frank or the ACA, the phrase literally appears hundreds of times. However, with both pieces of legislation, agencies are often required to issue regulations by a specific date.
Two notable regulations that missed their deadlines are also two of the more controversial. The new requirements for the calorie labeling of food in vending machines and menu items will cost restaurants and other small businesses more than $822 million to implement, and generate more than 1.4 million annual paperwork burden hours. However, businesses are still waiting for a final rule, and the proposed version arrived late as well.
Perhaps the most expensive “tardy” regulation involved forcing health plans and third party administrators to publish a “uniform” summary of benefits for health plans. The Administration was supposed to issue a final rule by March 23, 2011, but a rule was not published until almost a year later. The total cost for the regulation when it did arrive: $146 million and more than 3 million paperwork burden hours.
Whether or not this was avoidable, it's entirely predictable. Two years ago, I noted in a feature on implementation of the law that the administration was already behind schedule on a handful of early deadlines, and predicted that it was a good bet that many more would fall behind as well. On multiple levels, ObamaCare's bureaucratic ambition seems to have exceeded the Obama administration's bureaucratic capabilities.