Regulatory Action Center Review – March 27, 2020

Welcome to FreedomWorks Foundation’s fourth regulatory review of 2020! Our Regulatory Action Center proudly updates you with the latest regulatory actions from the swamp. This week, we bring you a special coronavirus edition, highlighting some of the government regulations that have been repealed to fight the pandemic. Check back next week for the next edition.

1) Allowing Distilleries to Produce Hand Sanitizer

Throughout this crisis, several products have been flying off the shelves like never before, including hand sanitizer. In order to fill the sudden and unexpected need for hand sanitizer, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau “has found that it is necessary or desirable to waive provisions of internal revenue law with regard to distilled spirits” to allow distilled spirits permittees to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizers. There are numerous reports from around the nation of distillers who are already capitalizing on this deregulation to help their local communities.

2) Expanded Access to Online Higher Education Classes

The Federal Student Aid Office within the Department of Education has changed its rules with regards to Title IV of the Higher Education Act to expand access to online options for students quarantined because of the virus. With hundreds of colleges and universities across the countries shuttered due to the pandemic, many have already transitioned to online classes to continue educating students. It is fantastic to see these institutions doing everything they can to continue the school year and the Department of Education should get out of the way.

3) Permitting Private Labs to Process Tests

One of the largest problems during the early stages of the pandemic was the lack of testing availability. Many have blamed the private sector for not producing enough, but in fact, most of the blame lays with the CDC. Until recently, the CDC testing system was outdated and unequipped to handle the situation at hand. One major problem was the bottleneck that COVID-19 tests could only be processed at a handful of CDC labs. Now, the Trump administration has revised these rules to allow commercial labs to work in coordination with the CDC to help get all Americans who need it tested.

4) Arizona: Waiving Licensure Requirements and Expediting Licensing

Though the need to tackle the COVID-19 from a public health standpoint remains paramount, governments haven’t neglected the seemingly minute. Yesterday, “Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order helping licensed professionals in the state stay licensed and deferring certain requirements for six months.” For industries that are already facing unprecedented economic uncertainty, extending licences and waiving license requirements is an excellent way to give small businesses a modicum of security as we weather the store.

5) Connecticut: Waiving Certificates of Need Laws

In preparation for what could result in an unsustainable influx of patients, Connecticut, along with several other states, has decided to suspend Certificates of Need “and other requirements to ensure adequate availability of healthcare resources and facilities.” Certificate of Need laws require communities to demonstrate to the state the need for building new medical facilities. Suspending these laws allows local communities greater flexibility in responding to the virus.

6) Maryland: Inactive Formerly-Licensed Healthcare Providers Allowed to Practice

Along with a broad series of other emergency regulatory and deregulatory activity, Maryland has taken the bold step to allow formerly-licensed healthcare providers to resume practice. The new rules only apply to healthcare professionals who are in good standing with the state medical board. Though this move seems extreme, in a crisis, a lack of healthcare personnel could be disastrous. It is good to see states taking preemptive deregulatory action, fixing things before they might become problems in the future.

7) Pennsylvania: Expanded Delivery Services and Suspended Regulatory Requirements for Pharmacies

In Pennsylvania, the Department of State has issued sweeping regulatory changes to the ways that pharmacies are allowed to operate. The most important is that Pennsylvania has loosened restrictions on pharmaceutical deliveries, allowing prescriptions to be delivered to far more people than under the previous framework. Allowing people to receive their life saving medicines without endangering the public by having to physically go to the pharmacy is just one way that we can ease the burden of quarantine.

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