As President Donald Trump continues to take regulatory action — deregulatory action would be the more accurate term — to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it’s encouraging to see that several states have taken similar measures to get people back to work and enable better access to health care.
For example, the U.S. Department of Labor has published a list of 33 states that have suspended, waived or eliminated regulations related to health care licenses and telemedicine to make it easier to deliver necessary services to their citizens during these uncertain times.
Health professionals and policy experts agree that many of these changes should be made permanent. It will both help the economy recover and allow these services to continue to be delivered as needed.
The White House also has recognized the need to reform occupational licensing laws in the states in the president’s “Principles on Workforce Freedom and Mobility.” While it took the pandemic for many of these states to reduce licensing restrictions and recognize licenses granted in other states, now that they are seeing the positive effect of these changes, they should take steps to make them permanent.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set a good example for the rest of the country when he signed “The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act” into law on June 30. The new law is one of the few that will permanently, rather than temporarily, change occupational licensing laws for hairdressers, interior designers, nutritionists and workers in other fields.
Most states have taken these actions on a temporary basis. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law on March 20 to temporarily enable licensing boards to speed up the recognition of out-of-state licensing and allow more access to telehealth. On June 15, the Ohio General Assembly unanimously passed a bill that would reduce barriers for education, health care and small businesses.
In Oklahoma, all occupational licenses that expire during the pandemic emergency will be extended, but they will expire 14 days after the emergency order has been withdrawn or terminated.
During a recent visit to Norfolk, Jim Vokal, executive director of the Platte Institute thinktank, said Nebraska lawmakers also have been working on trying to reduce roadblocks in the form of licensing requirements for a host of occupations.
Some progress has been made, but there’s work to be done, he said.
That’s true in many places. While it is clear that progress has been made to get the economy back on track, more states still need to reduce regulatory barriers to occupational licenses and make them permanent.