The Red Tape Pandemic

Coronavirus is frightening.

I’m working from home, practicing “social distancing.” Experts say it’ll help “flatten the curve” so fewer people will be infected simultaneously. Then hospitals won’t be overwhelmed.

But the infection rate grows. Doctors and hospitals may yet be overwhelmed.

It didn’t have to get to this point.

Coronavirus deaths leveled off in South Korea.

That’s because people in Korea could easily find out if they had the disease. There are hundreds of testing locations — even pop-up drive-thru testing centers.

Because Koreans got tested, Korean doctors knew who needed to be isolated and who didn’t. As a result, Korea limited the disease without mass quarantines and shortages.

Not in America. In America, a shortage of COVID-19 tests has made it hard for people to get tested. Even those who show all the symptoms have a difficult time.

Why weren’t there enough tests?

Because our government insists on control of medical innovation.

That’s the topic of my new video.

When coronavirus appeared, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made its own tests and insisted that people only use those CDC tests. But the CDC test often gave inaccurate results. Some early versions of the test couldn’t distinguish between coronavirus and water.

Private companies might have offered better tests, and more of them, but that wasn’t allowed. The World Health Organization even released information on how to make such tests, but our government still said no. Instead, all tests must go through the government’s cumbersome approval process. That takes months. Or years.

Hundreds of labs had the ability to test for the virus, but they weren’t allowed to test.

As a result, doctors can’t be sure exactly where outbreaks are happening. Instead of quarantining just sick people, state governors are forcing entire states to go on lockdown.

At the same time, many people who show no symptoms do have COVID-19. Without widespread testing, we don’t know who they are, and so the symptomless sick are infecting others.

A few weeks ago, the government finally gave up its monopoly and said it was relaxing the rules. There would be quick “emergency use authorizations” replacing the months- or years-long wait for approval. But even that took so long that few independent tests were approved.

So President Donald Trump waived those rules, too.

Now tests are finally being made. But that delay killed people. It’s still killing people.

Other needlessly repressive rules prevented doctors and hospitals from trying more efficient ways to treat patients.

For example, telemedicine allows doctors and patients to communicate through the internet. When sick people consult doctors from home, they don’t pass on the virus in crowded waiting rooms.

But lawyers and bureaucrats claimed such communications wouldn’t be “secure,” and would violate patients’ privacy.

Only last week did officials announce they would allow doctors to “serve patients through everyday communications technologies.”

Americans shouldn’t have to ask permission to use “everyday” technologies.

Now doctors fear that as more people get sick, hospitals won’t have enough beds for the critically ill.

But the bed shortage is another consequence of bad law. Critical access hospitals in rural areas are not allowed to have more than 25 beds. Trump has now announced that he’s waiving those rules.

In some states, there’s a shortage of doctors or nurses. That, too, is often a product of bad law — state licensing laws that make it illegal for professionals licensed in one state to work in another. Trump said he would waive “license requirements so that the doctors from other states can provide services to states with the greatest need.” Then it turned out that he could only allow that for Medicare; he didn’t have the power to override stupid state licensing rules.

Fortunately, many states finally waived harmful licensing laws on their own.

It’s good that governments finally removed some rules.

But the time that took killed people.

Once coronavirus passes, America should leave those regulations waived.

And we should repeal many others.

21 thoughts on “The Red Tape Pandemic

  1. Well thought John. Unfortunately many of these red tapes came about for fear of litigation. Noticed how many drugs and medical devices have been named in “class action” lawsuits by greedy lawyers even after months or years of research. Imagine what would happen if a drug being fast track through the FDA and just 1 bad outcome happens. The lawyers are out there watching now.

    1. Sitting at home most of the day, I am watching a lot more TV. The number of commercials from law firms specializing in Product Liabilty lawsuits is mind boggling.

  2. Absolutely the unnecessary federal and state regulatory system has been both protecting and killing our citizens for decades and doesn’t seem to be able or willing to discern between the two

      1. Karen McCoy, WHO’s test were not rejected. This is not what WHO does…they are not a testing dispensary. Your claims are inaccurate, and your over propagandist infected brain has lead you down a false path.

  3. What Trump did at the outset to downplay the severity of COVID 19, and rejecting WHO test kits, and potential effects on the stock market and his re-election has to be one of the most immoral acts in the history of mankind.

    1. Trump is not a doctor, or an expert on pandemics. If the CDC and FDA told him something, he would be listening to them until he had different information. The “experts” made these rules. Thank God he is getting rid of them. So sad that it took this long.

    2. Trump did not refuse WHO tests. The WHO tests are only for poor and developing countries, they were never offered to us.
      I love your articles John!

  4. You make a great point! Certainly there are many items that the federal government can do better than the local government, ie parts of national thruway system, parts of education, border protection, parts of environmental protection, most parts of national defense, etc. However, I believe as you can see, only PARTS. Our country is shifting to finding the only answer is available only in the federal answers. We need to reroute our thinking to finding answers to so many of our problems to our own back yard. I remember the day when all these things this week that were trying to get through Congress, would have been solved with a few local business people, a few churches, a school board, a few farmers, and some volunteers. Our federal government is often getting in the way, and demoting personal responsibility and ability.

  5. My niece is a physician who recently treated a patient with the virus. I assumed she would be subsequently tested and asked her when she would get her test results back. This was her reply….
    “Unfortunately I have so far been told that I am not eligible for a test since I am completely asymptomatic. I am currently working on getting permission since I see patients in a subacute facility where patients are on long-term ventilators, tracheostomies, etc. and if I pass this virus on to one of them it will spread to the entire facility like wildfire. I guess you have to be a politician, celebrity, or basketball player to qualify for a test.”

    How does this make any sense!? Kind of defeats the do no harm ethic, don’t you think?

  6. There is a common theme that keeps emerging and not just now but over and over through the course of time. The people at the heart of the infernal log jam are lawyers and law makers. And sometimes, maybe most times, those titles are shared by the same person. Thin that herd out and you might get better results. And who wants litigation? Lawyers. In the end they are usually the only ones making money.

  7. These are great points except that in South Korea, they were able to stop it because they specifically tracked people and required testing. The tracking required tracking their credit card information, bank statements, GPS locations on their phones… which Americans wouldn’t look too kindly at doing. There are a lot of reasons why the US is different and one of those is our freedom. Under a larger, more authoritarian government we wouldn’t have these problems.

  8. WHO did not offer test kits.
    Trump shut down flights from China in January.
    Unfortunately, due to miles of red tape and intrusion of politicians on both sides of the aisle – this Nation was not prepared for for this unprecedented pandemic.

  9. The nursing shortage is nationwide and has been for a very long time. I have been an RN for years and our healthcare system has been working ona “just enough” model for my entire career.

  10. It’s a DEADLY worldwide PANDEMIC.
    This is something that local, state and federal agencies should have the immediate authority to cut ANY red tape rules and regulations that would result in saving lives.
    We also need some sort of law (as much as I despise more laws) that keeps people from suing in regard to the results of cutting the red tape during a DEADLY worldwide PANDEMIC event.
    Unless something happens to someone due to absolute negligence we shouldn’t have to be worrying about getting sued in a situation like this.
    The ONLY thing that we should be focused on is SAVING LIVES!

  11. I am sad and scared for all those on the frontlines attempting to help those sick . I am sad parents can not accompany their children into hospital room and spouses unable to be near those suffering. I am sad people are sad and scared. I am sorry I will not see a grandchild graduation from college, one from high school and one who devoted his life to baseball miss an opportunity to be scouted , miss a grandchild’s Confirmation. I am sad churches are closed and sad our stock portfolio is worthless. I am sad children are frightened. I am angry that the WHO and China did not close their Live and Wet markets. If this virus remained in China , then so be it. It has spread throughout the world. People are dying, people are unemployed, some businesses will fall. Who and when will these markets be investigated ? Who will speak out about this practice of animals slaughtered and consumed. Just seeing the pictures of these establishments makes me feel ill. Since so many are eager to place blame on the government for the handling of this Pandemic please add to that where the blame truly lies, with China and an organization that is not fulfilling its duties .

  12. We have become a country of laws and bureaucracies. It would be beneficial to the country to return to somewhat of a more Jeffersonian style of government. Allow innovation to flow freely by removing archaic restrictions

  13. Once again, politics of special interests have reared their ugly head. The millions allocated to the Kennedy arts center and unrelated causes is disgraceful, and those responsible should be ashamed. The Aid bill quickly morphed into another bill of shameful “pork”, instead of limiting it solely to the virus relief. All, or most, of the problems endemic to this disaster can be traced back to the politics of greed and control. Entities and individuals shun the loss of control and are too focused on agendas antithetically opposed to effectively and efficiently addressing our problems. A line item veto and term limits wouldnt cure these problems, but would go miles towards minimizing them and more effectively holding our officials accountable.

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