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Obama cuts five regulations, says it will save $6B

May. 10, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By DAVID JACKSON, USA TODAY   |   Comments
The Obama administration has changed or eliminated five regulations, saving the economy an estimated $6 billion.
The Obama administration has changed or eliminated five regulations, saving the economy an estimated $6 billion. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via GettyImages)

The Obama administration announced Thursday it has changed or eliminated five regulations, saving the economy an estimated $6 billion.

President Obama also signed a new executive order "making it a continuing obligation of our government to scrutinize rules on the books to see if they really make sense," said a White House statement.

The statement added that, as part of Obama's regulatory review, the Council of Economic Advisers issued a report saying that "agencies have identified over 500 reforms, just a small fraction of which will save more than $10 billion over the next five years."

The changed regulations affect street signs, railroads, hospital paperwork and gas stations.

"Smart rules can save lives and keep us safe, but there are some regulations that don't make sense and cost too much," Obama said. "We will remain vigilant when it comes to eliminating regulations that are not necessary or that impose unnecessary burdens on America's families and businesses."

The White House described the changes announced:

Increasing State and Local Flexibility in Adopting Street Sign and Other Traffic Control Rules. It can be important to update street signs and other traffic control requirements, but national requirements can also impose significant costs. On the basis of public comments and recent analysis, the Department of Transportation is revising dozens of requirements to increase flexibility for States and local highway agencies and to reduce unnecessary impacts. Specifically, DOT is finalizing a rule that would extend compliance dates on traffic control devices, potentially savings millions of dollars in the process.

Eliminating Unnecessary Regulatory Costs for the Railroad Industry, Consumers. The Department of Transportation is finalizing a rule to eliminate unnecessary regulation of the railroad industry, saving up to $335 million in the near future. The law requires railroads to install positive train control systems, a technology that can control train movements under emergency circumstances, on tracks that carry passengers and toxic materials. By updating the current regulation to exempt those tracks that will not have passengers or toxic materials by 2015, DOT is saving up to $775 million over the next 20 years and avoiding the risk that unnecessary costs will be passed on to consumers while continuing to protect public safety.

Eliminating Red Tape and Saving Doctors, Hospitals $5 Billion. The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing two rules to remove unnecessary regulatory and reporting requirements now imposed on hospitals and other healthcare providers, saving more than $5 billion over the next five years. One of the rules updates the requirements for hospitals that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients the Medicare Conditions of Participation. For example, this rule eliminates outdated hospital management requirements as well as various unnecessary reporting requirements. As a result, total savings are expected to exceed $900 million per year. The second set of reforms addresses regulatory requirements for providers other than hospitals and could save up to $200 million in the first year. Examples of these reforms include updating obsolete e-prescribing technical requirements to meet current standards and eliminating other out-of-date and overly prescriptive requirements for healthcare providers. The combined reforms in both rules are expected to save doctors and hospitals more than $5 billion over the next five years while reducing regulatory burdens so that providers can operate more efficiently for their patients.

Getting Rid of Outdated Regulatory Burdens for Gas Stations. The Environmental Protection Agency is eliminating the obligation for many states to require air pollution vapor recovery systems at local gas stations. This measure was imposed in 1990, before new vehicles were required to have built-in air pollution control technologies. Since the use of technology for modern vehicles is so widespread, EPA is finalizing a rule to eliminate the obligation for many states to require air pollution vapor recovery systems at local gas stations. The anticipated five-year savings are over $300 million.

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