The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) will once again delay the implementation of the Trump administration’s controversial SUNSET rule, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

HHS on Thursday announced it is postponing the start date of the “Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely,” more commonly known as the SUNSET final rule, until Sept. 22.

The move was unexpected as in October the department proposed to withdraw or repeal the controversial rule, which the Trump administration published in the Federal Register the day before President Biden’s inauguration.

The controversial rule would add automatic expiration dates to more than 18,000 regulations issued by HHS and its sub-agencies, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration starting in five years unless the agency conducts an intensive review of each regulation. 

The final rule was originally scheduled to take effect on March 22 but was delayed for a year after a lawsuit was filed seeking to overturn it. HHS said it wanted to repeal the rule in an October 2021 proposal.

In a notice in the Federal Register on Thursday, HHS said it had received 80 comments on its proposal and is in the process of reviewing them all and developing a final rule. Some of those comments were submitted by plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the SUNSET final rule. A postponement of the rule will allow a review of the final rule in light of the claims raised in the litigation and whether the claims have merit.

The postponement applies to all regulations under the SUNSET final rule.