BCA's Washington Briefing

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on youtube February 6, 2015



The U.S. House on Thursday passed a bill supported by the Business Council of Alabama that would require federal agencies to gauge direct and indirect costs of small-business regulations. The House passed H.R. 527 by a vote of 260-163. Alabama's six Republican members of Congress voted for it.


Bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said it would help give small businesses a more influential role in the regulatory process. "This bill simply makes government think before it acts by answering, 'How will this impact America's working families?'" Chabot said.


The White House threatened to veto, saying it would "impose unnecessary new procedures on agencies and invite frivolous litigation," The Hill reported.


The House has passed versions of the same bill in the last two sessions. On Wednesday, the House passed legislation that would require federal agencies to report the full economic effects of regulations.


The BCA had joined more than 160 other organizations that signed the letter urging Congress to pass H.R. 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015.


"This act directly addresses challenges that small businesses face with burdensome regulations," BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said. "This act would require regulatory agencies to consider the impact of their actions on those being regulated."


The bill would not reduce regulations but by requiring a cost accounting it would help the 28 million small businesses that pay a disproportionate share of the cost. The bipartisan legislation would reform the regulatory process to ensure that all federal agencies appropriately consider the impact of their rules on small businesses across America, the letter states.


The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.



The Business Council of Alabama has joined hundreds of other organizations asking Congress to reject any proposal that would weaken an important component of the Medicare program that seniors and the disabled rely on for health coverage. The BCA and others have told the House and Senate that Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit, is an important component of health coverage for seniors and individuals with disabilities, according to a letter signed by the BCA and patient, provider, and employer organizations.


Thanks largely to competition, the average Part D premium has held steady the past five years. The average Part D premium is projected to be about $32 and Part D costs to taxpayers and premium payers are 45 percent - $349 billion - lower than the Congressional Budget Office's projections for the 10 years between 2004 and 2013.


The National Association of Manufacturers said in the letter that the Obama Administration proposes to impose Medicaid-style rebates on some Part D beneficiaries - specifically rebates for the dual-eligible and Medicare low-income subsidy populations. This proposal could increase beneficiary premiums, jeopardize access and patient adherence to needed medicines, while increasing Medicare spending on other more costly medical services, the NAM said.


Many Medicare beneficiaries would not be able to afford these rebate-driven cost increases. The Administration's proposal could cause premium increases of between 20 percent and 40 percent. Half of Medicare beneficiaries had household incomes below $21,183 in 2010 and half of those over 84 years of age had incomes under $18,000.


Employers and state Medicaid programs also could see costs shifted to them. Other negatives could occur including patients not taking their prescribed medication dosages because of higher costs.

"A mandatory Medicaid-style rebate in Medicare Part D is a poorly informed, ill-conceived policy change that poses serious risks to the health and well-being of millions of seniors and persons with disabilities who rely on this critical program," the NAM letter states.


Chamber Backs Regulatory Openness

U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Kovacs 2/5) "U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs Bill Kovacs today issued the following statement regarding the introduction of the "Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act:


"Passage of this important legislation would be a welcome step in achieving the kind of meaningful regulatory reform we need in the U.S. And it would do so in several significant ways, the first of which would be by requiring federal agencies to provide sixty days of notice to the public and requiring agencies to take public comments on the secret agreements they enter into with private parties for the issuance of new regulations. This process, known as 'Sue and Settle,' allows agencies and other groups to set regulatory and budget priorities for federal agencies without congressional or public involvement, which is detrimental to achieving open and effective rulemaking.


"The bill also allows for those parties most impacted by a regulation to petition the court to allow intervention in the court proceeding. This may sound like a simple due process right, but unfortunately, it is a right denied by the courts to the regulated community and a right federal agencies oppose in almost every proceeding.


"The bill that Senator Grassley and Representative Collins have introduced today would help end such closed-door decision-making, and the Chamber urges Congress to swiftly pass this legislation and enact reforms to give the public a meaningful voice in the rulemaking process. Without transparency and participation, the rules and regulations we produce are not the kinds of rules and regulations that will encourage investment, facilitate projects that help grow the economy, and create U.S. jobs.


"Regulatory reform is a key component of the Chamber's 2015 American Jobs, Growth, and Opportunity Agenda, a series of policy priorities that will help revitalize the American economy, create jobs, spur growth, and lift incomes."



US Chamber of Commerce   National Association of Manufacturers
Sixth District
 U. S. Rep. Gary Palmer