During the COVID-19 pandemic, stresses on healthcare systems and individual livelihoods actually created opportunities for reform. Badger Institute, a Wisconsin-based Atlas Network partner, helped ensure that those reforms in their state were both effective and grounded in individual rights. Their efforts through the “Unfettering Free Enterprise in the Wake of COVID-19” project were concentrated on expanding telehealth options and reducing the barriers inherent in Wisconsin’s occupational licensing system.
Occupational licensing creates artificial barriers to entry for many fields of employment, hindering or even preventing people from pursuing their dreams and limiting their options for building better lives. Badger Institute sought to reduce those barriers in Wisconsin, and their work paid off when legislators ensured that those who apply for a license actually get an answer from the credentialing board. Now, the Department of Safety and Professional Services can attach a recommendation to approve, approve with limitations, or deny a license application. If the relevant credentialing board fails to take action within ten days on an application that is recommended for approval, the application is automatically considered to be approved. This is good news for the nearly one million Wisconsinites who need a license to work in their field, especially since credentialing boards sometimes meet only a few times a year to grant licenses.
Badger Institute supported another bill which last year removed occupational licensing requirements for hair braiding, and now their research has also informed a new bill that would allow for the recognition of an occupational license an individual obtained in another state. Both of these reforms lower the bureaucratic burden for Americans who want to get back to work.
Telehealth has exploded in popularity during the pandemic because it enables convenient, socially distant doctor’s visits. In addition, it often has a lower price tag than in-office visits. This innovation became a go-to option for many patients over the past two years, but overregulation kept many customers out of the market. During the pandemic, Wisconsin policymakers temporarily allowed Medicaid users to use their benefits for telehealth services for both physical and mental health. Badger Institute is working to make sure these changes are permanent, clearing the way for better options for patients and providers alike.
Atlas Network supported this project with a grant.