Free the Nurses

June 17th, 2015 by 2 Comments

In March, Nebraska became the 20th state to allow nurses with the most advanced degrees to practice without a doctor’s oversight in a variety of medical fields. Writing in Forbes, John Goodman argues that more states should move in this direction.

“These regulations have the greatest impact on the poor, especially the rural poor. The farther a nurse is located from a doctor’s office, the less likely the physician will be willing to make the drive to supervise the nurse. This means that people living in poverty-stricken Texas counties must drive long distances, miss work and take their kids out of school in order to get simple prescriptions and uncomplicated diagnoses. This problem might be alleviated if nurse practitioners were allowed to practice independently in rural areas.”

If all this sounds like the reinvention of the Medieval Guild system, that’s exactly what it is. In Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman argued that these labor market restrictions are no more justified today than they were several centuries ago. The proper role of government, said Friedman, is to certify the skills of various practitioners; then let consumers decide what services to buy from them.

Read the article here.

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