Older consumers tend to use the services of certain regulated professionals more frequently than younger consumers do. Among these professionals are 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. It usually takes one of three forms: licensing, certification, or registration.
Occupational Regulation and Practices: Policy
Occupational regulation should enhance consumer health and safety and provide consumers with meaningful benefits, including fair play, adequate information and disclosure, and redress.
Occupational regulation that protects the regulated entity should not do so at consumers’ expense.
States should reject laws and regulations that restrict certain business practices of professionals but have no bearing on the quality of service and often result 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 and substantiate the need to license or regulate individuals working in unregulated professions or trades before establishing new regulatory programs.
Consumer participation on regulatory and licensing boards State
States should ensure adequate and diverse consumer representation on regulatory and licensing boards. In the absence of a statutory or regulatory mandate, officials should exercise appointment discretion to achieve balanced representation.
States should require, by means of effective sunset legislation, that state agencies and regulatory bodies justify their continued operation through open, well-publicized hearings in order to ensure their responsiveness to consumers.
Laws and regulations that prohibit or restrict advertising to the public by members of a licensed profession or occupation should be rejected.
States should enact laws and regulations that require regulatory agencies to disclose clearly through the media any disciplinary actions against regulated individuals for abuse, neglect, exploitation, negligence, incompetence, or deception.