Many Iowa licenses protect existing businesses more than public safety

In today’s Des Moines Register, the guest opinion by Kollan Kolthoff was very vague in his call for “common sense reform” of the licensing of cosmetologists.  (See link below.)  He wrote, “…leaders from within the industry are uniquely aware that there are problems that need to be addressed.”   I presume the industry leaders he refers to are existing licensed cosmetologists and  licensed schools of cosmetology.  After a person has completed the 2,100 required hours of education and paid as much as $20,000, it is very understandable that they would not want to see license requirements significantly lowered – thereby indirectly lowering the value of what they have already paid for.  Similarly, licensed schools of cosmetology have a very strong financial incentive to maximize the number or hours of schooling required for a license.
He also wrote Iowa needs reform that, “…protects consumers against the deregulation of licensed beauty professionals.”  Deregulation does not and should not mean a lessening of regulation to keep consumers safe.  Deregulation should focus on removing regulations that have the primary purpose of protecting the income of existing cosmetologists and schools of cosmetology.
The same issues apply to a large number of occupations that require a license from the state.  Most calls for licensing, and opposition to deregulation, come from existing businesses and licensees, not from the general public.  Our elective representatives should establish a process to review and reduce licensing requirements in Iowa so that only public safety is is taken into account when requiring Iowans to get a license from the state before being able to work in any particular job.

Reduce monopoly protection.

Patents are not natural property rights.  They are government created and enforced monopoly rights.  It is debatable whether patents encourage or hinder innovation and inventiveness. Even if patents promote inventiveness, there is no specific optimal number of years of protection.  In many instances, there is a good case to be made that no patent right,s or very limited patent rights, might spur more invention.  The case of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is more complicated because of government regulations that require much greater spending before a product is allowed on the market.  Even in those cases, we should err on the side of more limited monopoly rights and less use of government force and protection.  Humankind has made tremendous progress by being free to copy the ideas of one another.  What if fire, or the wheel, had been allowed to be patented?  Would that have spurred invention?  Our elected representatives should support shorter periods of time for monopoly patent protection.
Links to Register guest opinions:

Naturopathic medicine doesn’t need government help

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.

Don’t require BS for RNs – one more time

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

Don’t require BS for RNs.

Iowa should not require registered nurses (RNs) to have a bachelor’s (4-year) degree in order to get a license to practice.  Currently, Iowa law allows people to become RNs if they complete an associates (2-year) degree and pass a uniform exam.   As the Des Moines Register reported, opponents of the bachelor’s degree requirement argue that bachelor’s degree programs have not proven to result in better care.  (“Bachelor’s for nurses considered” 1/414/2012 – see link below.)
The Education Standards Of Practice Committee of the Iowa Board of Nursing is charged as follows: Review options and develop a proposal to submit to the Iowa Board of Nursing for the Associate Degree prepared nurse to educationally transition to a Baccalaureate in Nursing Degree as a license renewal requirement.  Why was the committee not charged to investigate whether or not there are public safety problems with the current requirement, and, if any are found, whether or not requiring a bachelor’s degree would solve such problems?  We do know that such a requirement would significantly increase the cost of becoming an RN for many people.  That would likely result in fewer RNs and higher health care costs (and higher wages for RNs with bachelor’s degrees and more students in four-year colleges of nursing).
Of the 16 appointed committee members, 11 are RNs with a bachelors or higher degree, 3 are not nurses – representing consumers, community colleges, and four-year colleges, and 2 are nurses who appear to not have bachelor’s degrees.  (See link to committee list below.)  So, 12 of 16 appear to have a vested interest in making the bachelor’s degree a requirement.
The only purpose for government licensing of any profession should be public safety.  More often than we would like, politically favored groups with vested interests ask to be licensed (or regulated) by government in order to to reduce  competition and increase their own wages or profits.  Since the committee meeting reported by the Register was not open to the public, we should presume it was because those with vested interests in making a bachelor’s degree a requirement did not want their comments heard.
The Register reported that there will be public hearing on this issue after the next closed committee meeting on December 13th.  Let’s hope the public hearing is packed with people who care about both public safety and the freedom to practice a profession without unneeded government licensing regulations.
Link to committee list and charge by the Board of Nursing:  http://www.state.ia.us/nursing/images/pdf/EdStand%20of%20Prac%20Committe.pdf