by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shoshana Weissmann writes for the Washington Examiner about one positive development in the fight against COVID-19.
Those of us who have been fighting for occupational licensing reform and other forms of deregulation have been astonished at how quickly many of the same stubborn, unnecessary regulations we’ve fought against for years have now been paused during this pandemic. To be frank, it has proven that we’ve been right all along.
Dubious concerns about health and safety have long been leveled at professions as benign as hair braiders and florists. However, the accusations that reformers and advocates don’t care about “health” or “safety” because we want to unburden people of needless, cost-intensive licensing requirements have quieted during the current pandemic. Instead, innumerable executive orders across the states have reduced medical regulations, not only to help professionals maintain an income during this economic downturn, but also to expand access to care.
Consider that many nurses and doctors have been fighting for years over “scope of practice” — the duties they may perform and whether nurses’ should be allowed to provide care outside the purview of a physician. The American Medical Association has long voiced concern that it is “dangerous” to allow nurses to practice independently or perform more duties.
But evidence continues to mount that expanding scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, and pharmacists lowers medical costs and improves access to care. It is no wonder that, in the face of the coronavirus, many states such as Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Massachusetts have expanded scope of practice for various medical professionals.
One can only wonder why these states did not make this change long ago and in a lasting way.
Weissmann touched on similar themes in a recent interview with Carolina Journal Online.
In a post-COVID-19 world, it makes even less sense that some low-risk professions are barricaded by red tape and governed to prevent concierge and gig-economy style services, said Shoshana Weissmann, a policy fellow at the Washington D.C.-based R Street Institute.
For example, organizations like the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Examiners refuse to allow hair stylists and nail technicians to take business outside salons — even though some customers may be more comfortable getting haircuts or manicures in their own homes as isolation orders lift but fear of COVID-19 exposure remains.
That’s crazy, Weissmann said.