The legislature actually has a committee that deals exclusively with new licensing boards because licensing barbers and hairbraiders is not intrusive enough. Among the proposed licenses this year are ones for music therapy, radiologic technicians, and midwives who are not nurses. As Sara Burrows of Carolina Journal put it, committee meetings consist of, “Listening to professionals from various occupations ask lawmakers to regulate their competitors out of business by requiring them to get a license to work in their field.”

Our paper on deregulating health professionals reviews some of the reasons why licensing limits access and increases cost without improving the quality of care. We’ve also addressed the question of credentials in a previous newsletter.

What is truly amazing about licenses is the variety of reasons given for needing one. Midwives are fighting hospital-based doctors so they can help women give birth at home. Some do this already, but risk being accused of practicing medicine without a license, so they want a license. Doctors’ arguments seem to come down to: pregnant women cannot make good decisions and will end up in the hospital with complications even with a midwife, so they should not have the option in the first place. Music therapists, on the other hand want to keep people from playing the wrong tempo.

To give an indication of the thinking behind most licensing, progressive Rep. Verla Insko is a sponsor or co-sponsor of all three bills, and pharmacist/lawyer Rep. Tom Murry sponsors the radiologic technician bill with her. The state should decriminalize midwives who assist in home births. There is already a national Music Therapy Association, so anyone can go to the site and find a registered music therapist. Can the state do more?