Reg watch

The following final and proposed rules are undergoing review by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. These regulations would each have an annual economic impact greater than $100 million.

• The Labor Department has submitted a proposed rule to create two sets of standards limiting exposure to crystalline silica for general industry, maritime and construction professionals. Over-exposure to crystalline silica has been connected to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, chronic

obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and kidney and immune disease problems. The two standards, one for general industry and maritime and the other for construction, will include permissible exposure limits and other provisions. While the rule is considered economically significant, “substantial benefits can be achieved by preventing the deaths and illnesses … caused by workplace exposure,” the Department of Labor told The Hill in a statement. OMB is reviewing the proposed rule before it is released for public comment.

• The Defense Department has proposed a rule to reduce military healthcare TRICARE costs by changing the hospital reimbursement rate formula to make it similar to Medicare’s. The rule would decrease federal reimbursements by 15 percent each year for four years, significantly reducing hospital revenue, until the government pays the minimum more consistent with Medicare rates. The rule would only affect Sole Community Hospitals, which are chosen based on their isolated location, travel time to other hospitals and number of beds, among other factors. The 478 affected would lose $278 million dollars in 2015 alone, although almost 40 percent see fewer than 10 TRICARE beneficiaries per year. Over five years, the estimated savings for the government are projected to be $800 million.

Public comment periods are closing soon for the following proposed rules:

• The Federal Trade Commission is accepting comments on conforming its regulations to the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which Congress passed in December 2010, and its fur-labeling guide. The law eliminated an exemption from labeling fur content for the customer if the fur was valued at $150 or less and added a disclosure exemption for “certain fur products obtained through trapping or hunting and sold in face to face transactions.” The comment period for these regulations ends May 16.
• The Labor Department has created a proposed rule that would alter certification and enforcement of the work system for non-immigrants with H-2B visas “in temporary or seasonal non-agricultural employment.” The rule would create a national registry for all H2-B job postings and require documentation of an employer’s recruiting processes. It would also give the Wage and Hour Division added authority to enhance protection of workers and streamline employer registration. The comment period that also changes market testing sources and start dates ends May 17.
•The Department of Health and Human Services is taking comments on a proposed rule that would give State Medicaid Fraud Control Units permission to use matching federal funds to find and analyze fraud through “data mining.” The rule, which would require the fraud units to report the costs and results of activities to the Office of Inspector General, is open for comment through May 16.