Today would have been Milton Friedman’s 107th birthday. One year ago, Dan wrote a post outlining Friedman’s critiques of occupational licensing; the argument is as timely today as it was last year, not to mention 60 years ago.
While medical boards are supposed to protect patients from unscrupulous practitioners, a ruling from the Utah Supreme Court shows that the state’s licensing board engaged in practices designed to suppress malpractice lawsuits.
News and Commentary
Forbes published a very interesting piece arguing that limiting the scope of practice for some specialties may have exacerbated their burnout rates. Doctors accrue status by being responsible for a wide variety of tasks or being trusted with a complex surgical procedure. By limiting what a doctor can do, practitioners can become bored repeatedly proffering the same diagnosis or preforming just one basic procedure. There are no clear answers on what to do, but he presents compelling specialty-level evidence that reduced responsibilities can entail diminished supply.
Arkansas recently expanded optometrist’s scope of practice to include some minor eye surgeries and predictably, a physicians’ group collected signatures to stop the change. ABC News is reporting that those efforts to block the reform just hit a wall. The physicians’ group may have violated the law in its signature collection drive, so, for now, the scope of practice expansion is safe.
The California Supreme Court is opening an investigation to discover how topics for this week’s bar exam were leaked beforehand. The topics were disclosed to the deans of sixteen law schools facing criticism for low bar-pass rates, and suspiciously, the bar was publicly engaged in efforts to help these universities improve (though not like this).
As Democratic candidates display an insatiable desire fight over their dream level of federal healthcare spending, we should consider at least some of the other debates within healthcare policy. An article at Catalyst makes the case for prioritizing cost reduction (largely through scope of practice changes). Meanwhile, Jim Banks (R-IN) and Bruce Westerman (R-AK) have introduced a bill encouraging scope of practice expansion, “The Hospital Competition Act”. Their bill also seeks to limit hospital consolidation and is summarized here.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced a set of reforms aimed at cost control. There’s quite a lot in here: a modest scope of practice expansion, fee changes that will reward primary care providers, and reforms to our baroque system of dialysis provision. Most importantly, hospitals will be required to display their insurer-specific prices for prominent services.
A new report highlights the inadequacy of substance abuse and mental health treatment in Michigan. The biggest issue is a lack of treatment, so increasing the supply of available healthcare practitioners is crucial. The report recommends expanding scope of practice and promoting telemedicine to increase access especially in under-served rural areas.