- Telemedicine has become a crucial tool during the crisis. 2017 paper discusses the regulatory barriers that had constrained it [Shirley Svorny, Cato Policy Analysis; earlier here, here, and here]
- “Wondered why it’s been so hard to ramp up production of surgical masks and respirators? Why haven’t private companies flooded into the market to meet peak demand? Because they are regulated medical devices and new versions require FDA approval which can take months to obtain.” [Paul Matzko thread on Twitter]
- Asking former health care workers to “dust off their scrubs” and return for the emergency raises possible liability exposures [Lori Rosen Semlies, Wilson Elser] “Coronavirus could affect med mal rates: Experts” [Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance]
- A closer look at certificate of need laws, which suppress hospital bed supply [Eric Boehm, related audio clip with Jeffrey Singer, earlier and more]
- More on the relaxation of occupational licensure in medical jobs during the emergency [Michael Abramowicz, Jeffrey Singer, earlier]
- Return with us now to those days not so long ago when public health specialists seemed to be in the paper every day inveighing against alcohol, dietary choices, and such like [Elaine Ruth Fletcher, Health Policy Watch last year on World Health Organization (WHO) rumblings against alcohol; JAMA on furious fight over red-meat recommendations]
So as to deploy medical services more effectively during the COVID-19 emergency, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it will forgo enforcement of rules restricting telemedicine, both by waiving HIPAA prohibitions on the use of everyday communications technologies like Skype and FaceTime, and by removing a requirement that reimburseable services be provided by the holder of an in-state license. At the same time, as I noted last week, many states have been relaxing rules prohibiting practice by out-of-state medical professionals (partial list here).
That’s part of a pattern in which governments are slashing many old regulations that they realize get in the way of crisis response and complicate the lives of ordinary citizens trying to work and shop under difficult conditions. My Cato colleague Chris Edwards links some of them in this post, including compilations by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Tax Reform. (More: R Street Institute; Katherine Timpf, National Review. Hospitals and medical professionals aside, suspended rules include hours of service rules for truckers driving emergency medical supplies, requirements that Florida insurance agents keep public offices, rules forbidding the combined transport of food and liquor in Texas trucks, and federal standards restricting universities’ use of online classes. How many of these rules were unnecessary or unwise in the first place?
While movement of persons between communities may pose a danger during epidemics, movement of goods remains vital to prosperity and mutual exchange. Simon Lester points out in a Cato podcast that easing trade restrictions is a direct way to address difficult bottlenecks in emergency medical supplies. Relatedly, recent tariffs on medical supplies haven’t been helpful, encouraging large factories overseas to prioritize customers outside the U.S. (earlier).
In a reaction to the financial strains caused by the outbreak, the feds have been flooding the banking system with liquidity, both by relaxing regulations and through central bank operations. Cato’s Diego Zuluaga in a podcast distinguishes between liquidity objectives and (what is rightly more controversial) bailout objectives.
From Institute for Justice’s “Short Circuit”: “Using publicly available descriptions of property boundaries, startup company draws lines on satellite photos, which helps its customers, community banks, visualize their property assets and identify issues (such as a property’s legal description not describing a completed shape). Mississippi regulators: That is the unlicensed practice of surveying, a civil and criminal offense. Fifth Circuit: There is no occupational speech exception to the First Amendment. The startup’s challenge should not have been dismissed. (This is an IJ case.)” In the 2018 case of NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court rejected a former doctrine that lower levels of First Amendment protection applied to “professional speech.” “The Board’s expansive regulatory theory would allow it to shut down Google Maps, Zillow and other map-based apps.” [Institute for Justice case page]
In two emergency declarations Thursday, governors eased the burdens of licensing for the duration of the coronavirus emergency: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that persons holding valid out-of-state medical licenses could get them recognized on one-day approval, while Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan extended the expiration dates of all licenses, permits, registrations, and the like until 30 days after the end of the emergency. I put it in context in a new Cato post.
- Democratic contenders’ platforms on employment issues: Sanders still gets out furthest to left but Warren, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke giving him some serious competition [Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox]
- Occupational licensure: more states embrace reform [Eric Boehm] Bright spots include Colorado (Gov. Jared Polis vetoes expansion) and Pennsylvania (recognition of out-of-state licenses) [Alex Muresianu and more] Connecticut catching up on nail salons, in a bad way [Scott Shackford]
- “Trump’s Labor Board Is Undoing Everything Obama’s Did” [Robert VerBruggen, NRO] A theme: to protect employee freedom of choice [Glenn Taubman and Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Federalist Society]
- Mistaken classification of a worker as an independent contractor, whatever its other unpleasant legal implications for an employer, is not an NLRA violation when not intended to interfere with rights under the Act [Todd Lebowitz; Washington Legal Foundation; In re Velox Express]
- Modern employers need to watch out for their HR departments, says Jordan Peterson [interviewed by Tyler Cowen, via David Henderson]
- Despite effects of federal pre-emption, state constitutions afford a possible source of rights claims for workers [Aubrey Sparks (Alaska, Florida constitutions) and Jonathan Harkavy (North Carolina), On Labor last year]
- “Your license is gone, your livelihood is gone, the care of your patients is gone. How fair is that?” Opposition grows to policy of yanking occupational licenses over unpaid student loans [Marc Hyden and Shoshana Weissman, Governing; Nick Sibilla, Forbes]
- Los Angeles ballot measure was billed as advancing affordable housing, but prevailing-wage provisions helped ensure that it didn’t [Steven Sharp, Urbanize Los Angeles]
- Not mad at Jon Hyman for advising client employers to avoid legal risk by not employing released sex offenders, just mad at the policymakers who play to the cheap seats by perpetuating the casual cruelties of the offender registry laws;
- “International programs demonstrate that paid leave benefits grow substantially over time, similar to other government entitlement programs.” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato; more Calder on paid leave mandates here, here, and (roundtable conversation) here (from last fall) and here; Emily Ekins, Cato and more (depth of public support depends on assumptions about impact on pay and women’s career prospects); Veronique de Rugy (why are conservatives supporting?)]
- Frankfurter and Greene’s 1930 book The Labor Injunction, one of the most influential books ever about American labor law, prepared the ground for the New Deal’s Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act. How accurately did it portray the labor injunctions of its day? [Mark Pulliam, Law and Liberty]
- “What Will the E-Verify Program Be Used to Surveil Next?” [David Bier, Cato via David Henderson]
- “Arizona Could Become the First State to Recognize Occupational Licenses From Other States” [Eric Boehm, Reason] “Making It Easier for Military Spouses To Get Occupational Licenses Could Help All Workers” [same] “Barbers and cosmetologists in Texas warn that repealing mandatory licenses for their professions would be as dangerous as having unlicensed chefs preparing your meals.” Thing is, cooks and chefs aren’t licensed [same]
- Meanwhile, in Congress: “Bipartisan Bill Would Stop States From Denying Occupational Licenses Due to Student Loan Debt” [Boehm again on Rubio-Warren measure]
- “Judicial Sanity on Occupational Licensing and the First Amendment” [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Fifth Circuit decision in Express Oil Change v. Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers & Surveyors]
- Ohio tackles licensure reform [Nick Sibilla] Idaho too: “Two Governors Kick Off 2019 With Big Occupational Licensing Reforms” [Eric Boehm]
- “Even congressmen can’t pump their own gas in New Jersey” [Simone Pathé, Roll Call]
- “Our results suggest that occupational licensing reduces labor supply by an average of 17–27 percent.” [Peter Q. Blair and Bobby W. Chung, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy]
The late and widely mourned Princeton economist was celebrated for his work across many areas, especially in empirical applications. But some of those who cite him on the effects of minimum wage laws do not always well understand his views, as manifested in for example this 2015 New York Times piece. More from David Henderson, Tom Firey, NPR, New York Times. [Headline via Peter Isztin]
Krueger’s work, often with Morris Kleiner, was instrumental in the revived wave of interest in recent years in the costs of occupational licensure policies, a welcome development in which both the Obama administration and free-market groups have played a role. [Eric Boehm, Reason; Brookings]
- New report estimates state and national economic costs of occupational licensing [Morris Kleiner and Evgeny Vorotnikov, Institute for Justice] Reform efforts proceed at both state and federal levels [Angela Erickson, Cato Policy Report] Another study: licensing reduces labor supply significantly [Peter Blair and Bobby Chung, NBER]
- Cosmetology schools serve as lobbying force behind high prerequisites before newcomers can practice in field [Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz, New York Times]
- “Occupational Licensing and Accountant Quality: Evidence from the 150-Hour Rule” [John M. Barrios, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy]
- “At public meeting, hydrogeologist criticizes Albuquerque, N.M.-based water district for fortifying ditch roads with rock rubble. District employee complains to the state professional engineer board, claiming that hydrogeologist’s critique amounted to the unlicensed practice of engineering. Correct, says the board. New Mexico Court of Appeals (2013): Actually, the First Amendment is pretty clear that state agencies can’t punish folks for talking at public meetings without a license. Tenth Circuit (2018): Sadly, though, the hydrogeologist is now time-barred from seeking damages over this contretemps.” [John K. Ross, Short Circuit on Turner v. Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, see related Oregon case of Mats Järlström covered earlier here and here, and an update] On the other hand, New Mexico making genuine progress on licensing thanks to executive order signed by outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez [Cato podcast with Paul Gessing]
- Opening up new practitioner categories could help reach underserved dentistry markets [Cato podcast with Sal Nuzzo] Letting the feds get involved in licensing issues is fraught with risk [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Lee McGrath]
- 1758 pamphlet on Edinburgh barbers’ exclusive right to cut hair sheds light on issues that are still with us [Daniel Klein]