I just learned about a fascinating legal case going on down in Florida over regulations on hearing aids. Our friends at the Pacific Legal Foundation (you might have heard their shout-out at this week’s confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh) are taking on outdated, anticompetitive rules that limit the ability of hearing specialists like Dan Taylor to help their clients.
The PLF case is an example of commercial restrictions that are in place in many states over similar health-related items—restrictions often implemented and supportered by incumbent practioners and retailers who are not interested in having their market share eroded by new entrants.
This case also reminded me that last year Competitive Enterprise Institute Research Fellow Ryan Radia wrote a fascinating short study (with W. Thomas Haynes) on resale pricing in the contact lens industry. While the two cases are not quite the same, they both involve self-interested market participants opportunistically using the health-related nature of their products to argue for government restrictions that benefit the producers rather then patients and customers. The same is true of occupational licensing for many jobs at the state level.