- At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Wolf repealed regulations to allow our healthcare sector to respond to the evolving crisis. Nonmedical regulatory restrictions—such as permitting cocktails to-go—were also lifted to help small businesses. Pennsylvania currently has over 163,000 rules, which disproportionately harm small businesses. Many of these regulatory repeals should be made permanent, and additional reforms should be passed.
MAKE OUR HEALTH CARE SECTOR ALWAYS PREPARED
Create legal clarity for telemedicine reimbursement
Telemedicine offers an opportunity to expand health care access to all Pennsylvanians, especially to the 1 in 4 Pennsylvanians living in rural areas. Additionally, it can cut costs and make care more affordable. A 2017 study found that patients who use telemedicine experience a cost savings of $156 per visit when accounting for time and travel.
Permit independent practice for nurse practitioners
Nurse practitioners provide comparable services to a physician within their respective scopes of practice. Allowing them independent practice will expand the number of primary care providers in the state and increase access to preventative care. This is codified in Senate Bill 25, which was introduced by Sen. Camera Bartolotta.
Make many of the temporary restriction repeals permanent
While some of the waived regulations are largely bureaucratic and refer to due dates and fees, many of them enabled a quicker response to the pandemic. These include rules related to state license reciprocity, telemedicine services, and more flexibility for nurse practitioners. The temporary repeal of rules that increased health care access while not increasing patient risks should be made permanent. This is codified in House Bill 1011 by Rep. Christopher Quinn.
HELP OUR BUSINESSES BUILD BACK BETTER
Cocktails generate one of the highest profit-margins for restaurants and make up about 10% of off-premise sales, and they have helped boost sales during shutdowns. Allowing this feature to become permanent could help restaurants recover from a pandemic that drove almost 1 in 5 out of business.
Allow businesses to reopen
Pennsylvania had the second highest business-closure rate in the nation—with over 30 percent of businesses forced to close at some point during 2020. Additionally, approximately 28 percent of small businesses are still closed, and it remains unclear how many will remain closed permanently. Furthermore, 20 percent of businesses said their ability to succeed depends on whether they can fully reopen. Almost one third of businesses said that mitigation orders were their biggest challenge and that the best way to boost the economy was to reopen. Pennsylvania should remove arbitrary restrictions and allow individuals to gauge their own risks.
Comprehensive regulatory reform
Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in the state. They are also the ones who were hit hardest during the pandemic and have borne a disproportionate regulatory burden. To ease their pain, lawmakers should consider comprehensive regulatory reform that reduces the total number of regulations the state imposes on them, gives greater oversight to economically destructive regulations, and makes compliance easier by streamlining the permit process. Comprehensive reforms include:
Establishes an Independent Office of the Repealer with a one-in two-out model for new regulations. It would also require existing regulations to be reviewed and the office to provide recommendations as to which ones should be eliminated.
Makes it possible for the General Assembly to initiate the repeal of any existing regulation through a concurrent regulation that would then pass through the regular legislative process.
Requires increased transparency throughout the permit process. Agencies that issue permits will be required to post information on their websites, create a permit tracking system, and state the reason for rejections.
Ensures a collaborative environment between regulators and the business community by establishing a compliance officer to guide businesses through the regulatory process and address noncompliance before it becomes an issue.
Puts additional oversight on regulations with an impact greater than $1 million a year. The General Assembly would be required to vote on these economically impactful rules before they were established.