Occupational Regulation and Practices

Background

Older consumers tend to use the services of certain regulated professionals more frequently than younger consumers do. Those professionals include Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, optometrists, funeral directors, hearing aid vendors, and pharmacists.

As such, occupational regulation is important to the older population. This regulation occurs exclusively at the state or local level, and it varies by profession. Occupational regulation that enhances consumer health and safety can provide meaningful benefits. But in some cases, occupational regulation increases prices and does not improve service quality. For example, restricting members of a licensed profession or occupation from advertising to the public diminishes competition without justification. The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly challenged what it calls the “anticompetitive conduct” of regulatory boards that prohibit “truthful and non-deceptive advertising.”

OCCUPATIONAL REGULATION AND PRACTICES: Policy

Occupational regulation

In this policy: FederalLocalState

Occupational regulation should enhance consumer health and safety and provide consumers with meaningful benefits. This should include fair play, adequate information and disclosure, and redress.

Policymakers should reject restrictions on certain business practices that have no bearing on the quality of service. This often results in increased prices. Examples include prohibitions on practicing under a trade name or in a mercantile establishment and restrictions on the number of branch offices that an individual licensed professional may operate.

States should conduct a thorough analysis before establishing new regulatory programs. The need to license or regulate individuals working in unregulated professions or trades should be substantiated.

Regulatory and licensing boards should have adequate and diverse consumer representation. In the absence of a statutory or regulatory mandate, officials should use appointment discretion to achieve balanced representation.

States should require that state agencies and regulatory bodies justify their continued operation through open, well-publicized hearings to ensure their responsiveness to consumers. This includes effective sunset legislation.

Regulators should not prohibit or restrict members of a licensed profession or occupation to advertise to the public.

States and localities should require regulatory agencies to disclose any disciplinary actions against regulated individuals for abuse, neglect, exploitation, negligence, incompetence, or deception.