Supreme Court Could Overturn Chevron Doctrine, Creating Health Care Chaos

Washington, D.C. – The Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments in a case that could have significant implications for abortion access in the United States. In addition, a Dutch manufacturer has agreed to stop selling its devices in the U.S. following a major recall. These developments have the potential to impact federal health agencies and regulations, setting the stage for a potential upheaval in the healthcare system.

The case at the heart of the matter, ‘Relentless Inc. v. Department of Commerce’ and ‘Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo’, revolves around whether commercial herring fishermen should pay for government observers assigned to their boats. However, the outcome of this case could lead to a much broader impact, potentially overturning a 40-year-old Supreme Court precedent that underpins modern federal regulation.

The core issue revolves around the ‘Chevron doctrine’, which dictates that federal courts are expected to defer to the interpretation of laws by the agencies implementing them, as long as that interpretation is deemed “reasonable”. The fishing groups involved in the case seek to overturn ‘Chevron’, aiming to transfer the power to interpret federal law from the executive bureaucracy to Congress and federal judges.

The possible implications of overturning ‘Chevron’ are significant, particularly for the healthcare system. Long-standing regulations governing drug safety, public health, and Medicare and Medicaid programs could be at risk of facing fresh legal challenges, potentially leading to instability and uncertainty in the healthcare sector.

Furthermore, the possibility of hundreds of district courts and courts of appeals coming up with different interpretations of terms without the ‘Chevron’ rule in place could present a multitude of problems.

The Supreme Court also teed up hearings for two other cases with critical implications for health care, including a case that could curtail access to a prescription drug used in more than half of all abortions in the United States. These developments are further elevating the polarizing issue of abortion during the 2024 campaign season.

Additionally, a Dutch manufacturer behind a significant medical device recall has agreed to halt sales in the U.S., following a settlement with federal regulators. The recall was initiated after reports that their internal foam can break down over time, posing a risk to users. The final settlement amount hasn’t been determined, but the company has set aside a substantial sum to cover remediation and other punitive changes.

As these critical cases unfold, the outcomes have the potential to reshape healthcare regulations and access in the United States, setting the stage for significant legal and regulatory changes in the near future.