Supporting Deference to Executive Agencies

October 16, 2023

The Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) is considering an administrative law case that may lead to courts overturning more agency actions, including actions taken by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and agencies that are part of HHS, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The case in front of SCOTUS, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, concerns a fisheries statute, but the principles outlined in the decision will likely apply broadly to all executive agencies.  One of the issues up for review is whether courts should continue to apply a legal doctrine referred to as “Chevron deference” when reviewing agency rulemaking and decisions. In Chevron, SCOTUS set forth a legal test outlining when courts should defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute, holding that such judicial deference is appropriate where the agency’s action was reasonable, and Congress has not spoken directly to the issue in question.

ACS CAN does not agree with all agency interpretations of statutes, but in general the organization supports courts deferring to agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with deep expertise to best interpret and make policy associated with complex heath statutes such as those governing Medicare and Medicaid. ACS CAN filed an amicus brief along with other public health, provider and consumer groups urging the Supreme Court to continue deferring to the expert authority of federal executive agencies entrusted by Congress to interpret and implement vital public health programs and complex patient protections.  Read our press release.