by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
The John Locke Foundation’s research team is putting out a package of policy recommendations focused on the Coronavirus this week. The schedule of policy briefs is as follows:
Monday: (1) Health Care and (2) the State Budget
Tuesday: (3) K-12 Education and (4) Affected Workers (paid sick leave and unemployment)
Wednesday: (5) Reducing Red Tape and Regulations and (6) the Economy
The first brief in the half-dozen scheduled for this week was written by JLF’s Health Care Policy Analyst, Jordan Roberts. The piece focuses on what North Carolina’s reaction to the Coronavirus outbreak has been, and what more the state should do.
As for what the state has already done, Roberts writes:
Gov. Cooper’s emergency declaration waived the licensure requirements for health and behavioral health professionals, which would otherwise require a North Carolina license to provide care in the state.
…Last week, the state lifted Certificate of Need (CON) restrictions on hospital beds… To increase beds or buy new equipment in North Carolina, a health care provider would normally need permission from the state. Hospitals and other providers should be able to increase or convert beds to meet the needs of their community rather than seek permission from a Raleigh-based government board. This regulation should remain lifted indefinitely.
Roberts offers suggestions for more action that can be taken to aid in virus mitigation:
The state should waive requirements for out-of-state telemedicine providers to increase access for patients. Increasing access to telemedicine could help to coordinate patient care and keep unnecessary visits to a minimum.
To free as many essential medical professionals as possible, the state should consider granting pharmacists the ability to test and prescribe medication for non-chronic conditions such as strep or the flu… This could free up primary care doctors and other point-of-contact providers who will need to conduct testing and treatment for COVID-19-related illnesses.
Another way to increase the number of health care providers available would be to grant nurse practitioners full practice authority. Again, to free up and better utilize all available health care personnel, we should remove any restrictions that would hinder health care professionals from practicing to the full extent of their training…
Finally, the state should request a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver to eliminate some burdensome regulations within the Medicaid program… This would allow for much more flexibility for providers to care for Medicaid patients.