Contrary to the opinion of almost every person who already has a government required license to work, many of the licenses required by the State of Iowa are not only unnecessary, their primary purpose seems to be to protect existing licensees against competition, rather than to protect the public.
I am sure that certain state licensing requirements do help to ensure the safety and quality of the service provided, but in almost all cases, private certification programs could serve the same purpose without involving the use of force by government, and without giving government backed protection to existing licensees. A great example of this is Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). Financial professionals who want to hold themselves to a higher standard can get this private certification, and then advertise that fact. The same is true of Realtors.
I’m sure that many licensed professionals also have various college degrees, private certifications, and other professional credentials. In many cases, these private credentials should be sufficient. Those who have them should advertise the fact, and not ask government to prohibit others from competing against them.
Some of the people in my industry, home medical equipment (HME) dealers, think it would be a good thing if all HME dealers in the state were required to be licensed by the State of Iowa. They lobbied Senator Jeff Danielson who agreed to propose Senate Study Bill 1172 (SSB1172) which, if passed, would require such licensing. I am not aware of any patients who are calling for this. I’m not aware of any particular problems in our industry that have resulted in harm to patients. Almost all HME dealers are providers under Medicare, and Medicare requires all providers to be accredited by an independent accrediting agency. The purpose of accreditation is to help ensure that all services and products are provided in a safe and appropriate manner. It does not appear that licensing is needed for the safety of the public. Therefore, I presume that those who advocate for this bill are hoping is will help protect existing HME businesses against new competitors.
I think they learned about this political technique for protecting existing providers against competition from the orthotists, prosthetists, or pedorthists in Iowa. What’s that? You say you don’t know what an orthotist, or a prosthetist or a pedorthist is? They are medical professionals who, only a few years ago, successfully lobbied the Iowa Legislature to require a license to practice their profession in Iowa. (You’ll need to look them up.) The effect has been that many DME dealers are now prevented from selling specially fitted shoes to diabetic patients because they do not have the proper pedorthist license. I had never heard of pedorthists until we found out that we had to have a licensed pedorthist in order to continue to sell diabetic shoes. I had never heard of any complaints from the public, or of any public safety issues surrounding the sale of diabetic shoes by DME dealers. Again, I presume that the existing businesses were trying to protect themselves against new competition for DME dealers.
Professional licensing in Iowa is out of control. Any group that wants to prevent new competitors from entering their industry goes to the state to become a licensed profession. This not only needs to stop, it needs to be reversed. As the Des Moines Register has advocated, we need to go through all licensed professions to determine whether or not there is a real public safety concern that is actually solved by licensing. If not, we need to repeal the licensing requirement. If there is a real public safety need, then we need to make sure that the licensing requirement is limited to meeting that need, and that it does not go beyond that need in order to protect existing providers from competition.
The Des Moines Register reported that the Iowa Department of Transportation, at the urging of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, has stopped Tesla Motors from allowing Iowans to test their all-electric car. Under Iowa law, it is illegal to sell new cars without going through a dealer. Auto dealers have a strong lobby in the Iowa Legislature. They want to use the force of government to prevent free market competition and voluntary free market transactions. Just like they lobby to keep it illegal for a dealer to be open on Sundays. Nobody wants these laws except the dealers. Let your Iowa legislator know what you think.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/companies/2014/09/25/tesla-test-drives-iowa-dot-west-des-moines-laws-illegal/16192477/
Des Moines and surrounding communities should welcome Uber, the internet based company that coordinates ride sharing as an alternative to taxis and limousines. Uber is now available in the Des Moines area for both drivers (car owners) and for riders. Uber takes advantage of the fact that most privately owned cars are very under used, and that many car owners have available time to provide a ride to those who need one. What a great way to earn extra income, or to start your own business full time. Uber does extensive background checks on people who want to provide rides in order to ensure a high level of safety. Beyond that, Uber actively solicits riders to rate drivers on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent. It has been reported that Uber stops working with drivers who’s average rating falls below 4.6. So, Uber strives for high quality. (Uber drivers also rate passengers, so it is possible that Uber can also stop serving customers who are abusive.) Although Uber will be very upsetting to existing taxi companies, the City of Des Moines and surrounding communities should make whatever legal and regulatory changes are needed to allow Uber to operate in the metro area. If Uber is not doing enough to provide for reasonable customer safety, then laws and regulations should address those issues. Licensing should not be necessary. Generating tax revenues or protection of existing businesses should be considered in the process of making any needed changes.
Iowa prohibits auto sales on Sundays! Aaron Gott’s commentary in The Des Moines Register about the unconstitutional anti-competitive protections given to automobile dealers and others was spot on. (7/19/2013 “Don’t let laws play favorites”) I don’t know if Iowa law prohibits automobile manufacturers from selling directly to consumers in Iowa, but if so, that law should be repealed. I do know that Iowa law still prohibits automobile dealers from being open for business on Sundays. That law only benefits auto dealers, not the citizens of Iowa. Many businesses in Iowa would love to be closed one day a week if the government forced all of their competitors to do the same. Our legislators need to stand up against the well funded automobile dealers and repeal this anti-consumer, special interest protection law.
Contrary to the letter to the Register on 5/28/2013 by Michelle Anderson, “Iowans should have access to naturopathic docs”, we already have open access to naturopathic doctors and medicines. What we don’t have and don’t need is for our government to license practitioners and then require that their services be covered by insurance. Individuals are not calling for licensure in the interest of public safety. Practitioners are calling for licensure in order to have their products and services be a required service under Obamacare. Unfortunately, as long as our government continues to use its power to force insurance companies to cover politically favored medical products and services, there will be many special interests, such as naturopathic doctors and pharmacists, who will try to get on the government gravy train.
Regarding the letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register on 11/21/2012 entitled:, “Bachelor’s degree will lead to better nurses for patients” by Vickie Barth (see link below): It is possible that patient outcomes would improve if every nurse was required to have a bachelor’s degree. It is also possible that patient outcomes would improve if every health care professional was required by the State to have additional training and education. The question is what should the State require. The only moral justification for licensing by the State is public safety. Laws and regulations intended to increase safety come at a cost in terms of both money and loss of freedom. The balance between public safety on the one hand, and the loss of freedom and increased costs on the other hand, should be based on reasonableness. What is or is not reasonable is properly the subject of political debate. In this case,allowing people with associate degrees in nursing to be licensed as RNs does provide reasonable public safety. Other goals expressed by Ms. Barth, such as “to advance our professional status…” or to “…determine our own practice.” are honorable goals, but they are not proper reasons for the State to make their licensing requirements more restrictive.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/comments/article/20121121/OPINION04/311210042/Letter-editor-Bachelor-s-degree-will-lead-better-nurses-Iowa-patients