Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Breaking Up Texas' Medical Cartels

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight.
Proverbs 11:1

Crony Capitalism takes many forms.  Some of those forms kill people.  In Texas, 'scope of practice' laws protect the medical and higher education lobby at the expense of consumers forced to suffer without medical care.

Today, TPPF held "Let the People In: The Scope of Practice Reform in Texas":
With the implementation of ObamaCare forcing all citizens to sign up for health coverage, Texas faces a physician shortage. As a result, thousands of newly insured patients will have a hard time finding a doctor, while those with coverage will have more difficulty accessing care. What can be done to relieve the mounting stress on our healthcare system?

One possibility for Texas lawmakers is to relax scope of practice rules, as many other states have done, and allow advanced practice registered nurses more freedom to treat patients according to their education and training.

Join us as our panel of experts review current scope of practice limitations and propose reform measures to keep Texans healthy.
Leading off was William Sage of UT-Austin.  He quoted Milton Friedman's argument against medical licensing from 1962.  His point about how medical licencing creates cartels was obvious and well received.

Joe Straus' Obamacare point man, Rep. John Zerwas (R - Richmond), argued in favor of de facto death panels.  Calling consumer choice "redefining the practice of medicine," Zerwas argued cartels are necessary to "protect the public" from themselves.  Zerwas failed to explain how a system that is allowing tens of thousands of people to go without care is properly defined in the first place. When challenged about the positive outcomes these reforms have produced in other states, Zerwas scoffed and listed several unconvincing reasons why Texas is different. Zerwas also belittled a midwife who spoke about her professional experience.

The star of the event was Christy Blanco, a nurse practitioner from El Paso who moved her business to New Mexico to flee Texas debilitating regulations.  Blanco described her harrowing efforts to comply with Texas' byzantine maze of provider restrictions.  Her efforts have left her tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt.  She told the heartbreaking stories of patients left without care when she failed.  Given that there's no evidence additional education improves patient outcomes, Blanco asked: "What benefits do these restrictions provide to Texas?!?"

Medical cartels always restrict supply.  Politically connected providers create barriers to entry to restrict competition.  Scope of practice laws are one form of cartel.  Given that 19 states have lifted these laws and achieved equal or greater patient outcomes, these laws have no defense.  Yet another argument in favor of new leadership in the Texas Legislature.


Update: TPPF has more here.

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