What can Washington do to minimize harm from the coronavirus? The answer isn’t hasty flash policy, as Iain Murray and I have argued. If anything, some of the best policy responses are coming not from imposing new regulations, but from loosening old ones. In fact, many such rules were never needed in the first place. To that end, a Twitter hashtag, #NeverNeeded, is collecting a small but growing list of ideas for rules to get rid of, as well as rules that already have been eased.
Ideas are welcome. If you’re on Twitter, please tag CEI’s account, @ceidotorg, or my account, @regoftheday, with your #NeverNeeded examples, ideas, and stories. We’ll periodically update this list as it grows. Other lists of ideas are available from CNN, the R Street Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.
So far, the list includes:
- Remove tariffs and other supply chain barriers that prevent health care supplies from getting to where they are needed.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should significantly ease its process for approving vaccines, treatments, and tests.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission should change accounting rules that discourage stockpiling of medical supplies and other assets that would have been very useful right now.
- Stop the attack on independent contractors such as delivery drivers, who are making quarantines safer and easier for so many people, by trying to reclassify them as employees rather than independent contractors. The worst instance of this is the California state statute AB5, which has resulted in a lot of people losing employment—many of whom already worked form home.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should focus on its mission of disease control, and drop its campaigns against e-cigarettes and other disease-unrelated products.
- The CDC should ease methadone clinic regulations that often require long lines to form at clinics.
- Expanding right-to-try policies for medicines that have not yet been approved.
- Congress should repeal the Jones Act, which makes international shipping of medical supplies and other goods slower and more expensive. A forthcoming paper by CEI’s Mario Loyola makes that case in detail.
Already Proposed or Enacted
- There is a federal proposal to roll back a regulation forbidding doctors from using their personal phones for telehealth services for Medicare patients. This is currently allowed only in rural areas.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will allow doctors to practice medicine across state lines.
- New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu issued an emergency order allowing restaurants “to also order beer and wine from their favorite restaurants when ordering pickup or delivery.”
- New York is doing the same thing.
- Germany is allowing supermarkets to open on Sundays.
- The Transportation Security Administration is now allowing passengers to carry 12 ounces of hand sanitizers, up from 3.4 ounces.
- After years of attacking online college education, the Department of Education is now looking to ease restrictions on online courses at universities.
- The FDA is now allowing private companies to sell coronavirus tests without its approval.
This list is hopefully just the start. More ideas are coming in at the Twitter hashtag #NeverNeeded. Your ideas are welcome.