Safety compliance on fishing boats seems like a good idea. We know that unsafe practices within this industry can result in serious injuries and even death. But why should doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals care about a case involving safety regulation within the fishing industry?
It turns out that a ruling on this case could impact the delivery of healthcare at a federal level.
A case that combines fishing and healthcare
The case involves two fishing boats that have filed a lawsuit because they believe it is unfair to pay for federal inspections that check for compliance with fishing safety regulations.
A brief bit of history before answering the question
In order to rule on this case, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is likely to overrule long-standing framework that allows courts to defer to expert agency interpretations of the law. This case involves a federal statute, a federal agency, and the fisherman.
This framework used to decide cases that involve federal agencies essentially states that if a statute is clear, the court applies the statute. If the statute is not clear, the court refers to the expert agency’s interpretation. As long as that interpretation is reasonable, it stands. This is important because the laws Congress enacts often leave room for interpretation.
This framework is known as the Chevron deference because it was established in a decades old case, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., where SCOTUS explained that when Congress uses broad language to craft a law it “implicitly delegates” authority to the agency to interpret and apply the law.
Some legal experts have stated that the increasingly conservative make-up of SCOTUS has led to a more anti-regulatory approach when ruling on cases. As such, they argue that it seems likely the current SCOTUS will overrule Chevron.
A look at the impact of a fishing case on healthcare
At first glance, a case about the fishing industry does not seem to have much to do with the healthcare industry. However, overturning Chevron could impact the practice of medicine. For example, the American Cancer Society has voiced concern that overruling Chevron will reduce the stability of public funded health insurance policies, like Medicare and Medicaid. The group filed a brief with SCOTUS, outlining their concerns, using three cases that challenged Medicare statutes as examples.
It is important for medical professionals to keep current on this issue. We will provide updates as they become available.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication.