A new database aims to show policymakers and the public how federal regulations are robbing states of managing their own health care.
The database, called State HealthReg Data, and created by scholars Kofi Ampaabeng, research fellow, and Elise Amez-Droz, program manager at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, quantifies the volume and characteristics of federal health care regulatory restrictions so states can have a tool to “examine the impact of regulations on the practice, delivery, and outcomes of medical care.”
The database looks at a wide variety of measures: from professional licensure and provision of care at institutions to health care financing and drug manufacturing and distribution.
“Providing healthcare in the United States is complex, the result of various levels of regulations – such as the rendering of services by medical professionals, the education of medical professionals, the provision of care by institutions, the manufacturing and dispensing of drugs, the financing of healthcare services provided to patients, and many others,” Amez-Droz and Ampaabeng state in the database’s introduction.
Measuring Barriers to Innovation
Regulations often bypass their original intent, the authors state. Instead of improving quality, access, and affordability, regulations cause the market to stagnate over time.
“The intricacy of these regulations favors industry incumbents that have the expertise and resources to maintain their position,” Amez-Droz and Ampaabeng write. “It also constitutes a barrier to new entrants, shielding industry members from competition and innovation, which patients depend upon to ensure better care at a lower cost, year after year.
“Our complex healthcare system is the result of decades of federal and state regulations that purport to improve access and quality and control costs and yet, we hardly take stock of the impact the volume of healthcare regulations that have been enacted has on the health system and health outcomes,” Amez-Droz told Health Care News.
“Measuring and identifying all healthcare regulations is the first step towards objectively measuring the impact of the myriad of regulations on healthcare,” Amez-Droz said. “In addition, with State Health RegData, researchers, policymakers, and the public alike can identify and compare the regulatory regime across states.”
The database can show health care in a new light, Amez-Droz says.
“With this information, lawmakers in Oklahoma, for example, can ask, ‘why do we have certificate-of-need laws, but Texas doesn’t?’” Amez-Droz said.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., (email@example.com) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Kofi Ampaabeng, Elise Amez-Droz, “State Health RegDat 1.0: A Quantification of State Healthcare Regulations, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, October 14, 2020: https://www.mercatus.org/publications/healthcare/state-health-regdata-10-quantification-state-healthcare-regulations