It’s official, the United States is under a National Emergency.
In a press conference announcing our new status, President Trump detailed a long line of reforms, to be implemented immediately, intended to assist Americans and healthcare workers as the country seeks to limit the impact of COVID-19.
Many of the reforms called for as a response to this crisis are common sense policies that, frankly, the country should have been practicing for years. And while it’s regrettable it took a pandemic to finally get the powers that be to agree to some of the following, we can at least hope the country will retain these measures and practices moving forward.
The President called for the deregulation of telehealth services — something I’ve been pushing for a decade. Telehealth allows rural Americans in healthcare deserts to access quality care at much cheaper rates. It protects patients and workers from being exposed to disease and illnesses unnecessarily. There’s absolutely no reason the red-tape that has existed around these technological advancements should be in place.
Trump also waived occupational licensing restrictions that block practitioners from being able to cross arbitrary state lines and provide care in other states. This is a flat-out asinine government barrier that free-market proponents have been working to overturn for years. I can’t applaud this action enough.
Occupational licensing restrictions make it harder and more expensive for people to enter trades, which in turn makes services more expensive and harder to obtain. The United States should keep this rule in place indefinitely. It’s a common sense reform that will actually reduce the cost of healthcare and make services more widely available. This is an easy way for the right to lead on healthcare access.
On top of this, Trump also gave the secretary of Health and Human Services permission to waive other laws and regulations hampering access to healthcare in order to deal with the virus. Some of these measures would impact laws that limit the number of beds and length of stays in hospitals, speed up admission processes for some institutions, and remove roadblocks that have made mass-testing for the virus impossible. All great things, all great things that should be in place with or without coronavirus.
As calls for social distancing continue, we’ve also seen both the public and private sectors come together to embrace and promote remote work. While not everyone has the capacity to work from home, there are undoubtedly thousands of jobs that could move to this system permanently. Younger generations have increasingly pushed for these types of schedules, but have struggled to move older generations tied to an office structure along.
The reality is, remote work offers a better quality of life. It saves companies and employees thousands of dollars a year on office costs, parking, utilities, and wear and tear on cars. It’s a green policy and places less of a burden on our infrastructure. It elevates the family structure and allows people to spend more time with their kids. Over the coming weeks, let’s hope our nation’s business leaders realize the beauty in this model and move into the twenty-first century more fully.
It shouldn’t take a national emergency for Americans to enjoy basic advancements in our healthcare and quality of life. These are easy reforms that should have been standard practice all along. Let’s hope it stays this way.