Federal, State, and Local Governments Shed Over 170 Regulations to Fight Pandemic

Updated: 2020-04-07 18:16:03

The federal, state, and local governments in the United States shed more than 170 regulations in order to fight the CCP virus pandemic, according to a list maintained by a taxpayer advocacy group.

The waived regulations fall into roughly two categories, the absence of some makes it easier for doctors, hospitals, and healthcare companies to respond to the pandemic. Others were shed to help Americans deal with the unprecedented repercussions of closing down vast swaths of the economy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave states more leeway to test for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus. The FDA also loosened restrictions on the distribution and use of newly developed tests, issued dozens of emergency authorizations for new test kits and eased rules on the production and use of ventilators.

The Department of Health and Human Services lifted restrictions on medical licensing to allow professionals from one state to treat patients in another and waived privacy restrictions which prevented doctors from providing telemedicine.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services waived more than a dozen regulations to give doctors more flexibility to provide telehealth services and ease the burden on healthcare providers by temporarily suspending reporting requirements and audits, among others.

The Department of Transportation lifted restrictions on truckers who drive essential supplies.

The list was compiled by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a non-profit advocacy group which opposed Democratic presidential primary candidate Joe Biden’s plan to raise taxes.

“The Trump administration and state and local governments are wisely suspending regulations to help fight the coronavirus,” ATR said in a statement.

“Many of these rules and regulations were not necessary in the first place, given their tendency to reduce innovation and access to care, not to mention their restriction on American liberty.”

The growing list, which has been updated regularly as of April 7, includes dozens of regulations shed by state and local government, including the suspension of the ban on plastic bags in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. The goal of the suspensions is to prevent customers from bringing reusable bags to stores since they are more likely to spread the CCP virus.

Virginia, Colorado, and North Dakota suspended requirements for car inspections and driver license and registration renewals, according to the list.

Even more regulations can be scrapped to empower American industry to help with the crisis, according to a list released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on April 7. The institute flagged a list of 30 major regulatory hurdles it believes should be addressed as part of the next stimulus bill.

A call to scrap regulations that slow down the approval of new medicines and COVID-19 test kits are at the top of CEI’s list. The institute is also calling for the repeal of all state-level “certificate of need” laws, which require healthcare providers to seek the approval of a state regulator in order to expand their facilities.

While a number of states have waived and loosened medical licensing regulations, CEI notes that more needs to be done in the area, including suspending regulations that restrict physicians’ assistants and nurses from performing procedures they have been trained to carry out.

The institute also calls for shedding restrictions imposed on medical supply sterilization plants, several of which have shuttered after the Environmental Protection Agency issued what CEI calls a “faulty analysis” about a chemical used in the sterilization process.

“We have already seen that many regulations have proven to hinder or delay appropriate policy responses,” CEI said in a statement.

“Other regulations are or were making things worse than they otherwise would be. In many cases, it is now clear that these regulations were never needed, or that whatever justification they once had has been superseded.”

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