Occupational License Laws May Hurt Health Care Competition

Law360, June 25, 2019

In their Law360 article “Occupational License Laws May Hurt Health Care Competition,” three Analysis Group consultants examine recent academic literature on the economic effects of occupational licensing and scope of practice (SOP) laws, which regulate services that can be performed by certain types of health care providers. The article – by Vice Presidents Juliette Caminade and Alex Robinson and Managing Principal Samuel Weglein – summarizes litigation that has followed in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, which held that state licensing boards are not immune from antitrust scrutiny.

It also summarizes three recent academic journal articles that study SOP laws in health care. All three articles found that there was no correlation between restrictions on providers’ scope of practice and health outcomes, and in some cases found a correlation between greater provider independence and increased primary care utilization. Taken together, the Analysis Group consultants write, “the articles suggest that in certain health care contexts, removing SOP barriers may increase competition and reduce health care costs without negatively affecting quality.” As a result, “in the context of antitrust enforcement, the issues surrounding occupational licensing will likely continue to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.”

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Caminade J, Robinson A, Weglein S