Federal and state agencies are part of the executive branch of the government. Agencies are created through "enabling legislation," that establishes the mission of an agency and defines its powers. Commonly, the legislature gives an agency a general mandate, such as "protect the public health" and directs the agency to decide the best way to do this. This allows the agency staff to develop new rules to respond to changing conditions, which is usually a much quicker process than introducing and passing legislation.

When the regulations are adopted, they are legally binding unless they exceed the agency's authority or conflict with other laws or the state or federal constitution. In emergencies, rules can be published and put into effect without a prior comment period, as long as they are subject to later revision.

Because regulations carry the force of law, it is critical that SCHA monitor all proposed regulations affecting hospitals and respond appropriately and quickly on behalf of the members. When new regulations are implemented, SCHA also communicates information to the members that they will need to comply with the regulations. When hospitals believe that the agency is overstepping its authority, the SCHA communicates with the regulators to resolve or clarify the issue.

Read the Regulatory Matters newsletter for the latest on state and federal regulations.

Documents and Resources