Kaitlin Finley, OCPA, Policy Research Fellow
Last Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus and issued emergency orders to give healthcare providers the flexibility they need to treat the outbreak.
Seeking to increase the number of available healthcare providers, President Trump announced that he would give his Health and Human Services Secretary the authority to waive certain federal regulations regarding telehealth (virtual doctor appointments) and medical licensing requirements. Waiving these requirements would allow doctors to provide medical care (in person or remotely) in different states with the greatest need.
Medical providers and public health officials have stated that telehealth should be utilized to help fight COVID-19. Last week, Dr. Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease specialist and executive with the Permanente Medical Group, told the New York Times “the use of telemedicine is going to be critical for management of this pandemic.”
Some state officials have also recently embraced reforms. (Telehealth medicine and licenses for health care workers can be subject to both federal and state regulations.)
Last Friday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, directed his administration to “cut the red tape so that medical professionals, including pharmaceutical, nurses, doctors who are licensed in other states but residing here, can be immediately licensed in Colorado as quickly as possible to practice.” Polis said Colorado is planning to bring in contract nurses from other states to help with the outbreak.
In a recent executive order, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, also waived certain licensing requirements and burdensome codes for state medical facilities in California.
These swift actions by state leaders and President Trump show that they understand the importance of removing barriers that restrict the supply of health care workers. States must empower their medical providers to provide the best care for citizens by eliminating all unnecessary red tape.
NOTE: Kaitlyn Finley currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on healthcare and welfare policy. Kaitlyn graduated from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Previously, she served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time in Washington D.C. interning for the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Her analysis, reposted here with permission, first appeared at the website of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.