Uncertainty can be crippling. In many, it turns an energetic “can-do” spirit into a cautious “wait and see” mentality.

In 2011, more than half of small businesses surveyed by the US Chamber of Commerce said they were holding off on hiring new employees largely because of uncertainty about the economy.

That was in 2011. What about in 2020, with the coronavirus and the government’s response to it, at least for a time, laying waste to the stock market and much of the economy? How much does certainty matter now?

Take Tuscaloosa, for example. Just last week Mayor Walt Maddox said that a lack of a football season, or even a mitigated season with less fans, would be “catastrophic” for the city. How catastrophic? A $131.5 million-in-lost-revenue kind of catastrophic.

So what do the restaurants, bars, and other businesses that rely on football-related revenue do while they wonder if this economic doom is heading their way? Do they hire and train employees? Do they stock up on inventory? How exactly do they plan for two extremely different potential realities?

Those answers are not clear. What is known, however, is that Tuscaloosa is not used to this uncertainty. And neither is our state.

Much of the unpredictability that the coronavirus has brought with it is not easily controlled or minimized. We can’t exactly make college football come back. And even the government cannot regulate the virus away.

We are not, however, entirely powerless in the COVID-19 era. Some uncertainty can be reigned in with action by the state legislature.

On April 2nd, Governor Ivey suspended the licensure and certificate of need requirements for medical practitioners and first responders, which enabled them to more readily come to Alabama’s assistance during the pandemic.

This action made it significantly easier for healthcare professionals from other states to come to Alabama and treat our sick. It’s also made quick and necessary expansions of healthcare facilities possible, since providers no longer have to jump through regulatory hoops governing whether or not the government thinks a new healthcare facility, or even an expansion of an existing facility, is needed.

The certificate of need process does just this. It forces healthcare providers to seek government approval before they can build a new facility or even increase the amount of beds in an existing facility. For many, this is a lengthy and costly process.

For this reason, the suspension of these regulations is good and necessary. It encourages healthcare providers to increase the availability of medical care in our state by offering a break from weighty government restrictions.

The problem, however, is that the April 2nd suspension is not permanent. In fact, Governor Ivey can only suspend these regulations for sixty days at a time.

Insert uncertainty.

Is it worth it for a nurse to pack up and move to Alabama to work with coronavirus patients if the order allowing her easy transfer ends in September (when the state of emergency is set to expire as of this writing)?

Is it worth it for healthcare facilities, likewise, to plan for new capacity if they don’t know for sure whether they’ll find themselves ensnared in government regulations once again in a couple months?

Again, it is a good thing that Governor Ivey suspended these regulations. In fact, the very absence of these regulations provides more certainty for our medical practitioners as they are less dependent on the decisions of bureaucrats in Montgomery.  The uncertainty which comes with the temporary nature of the suspension, however, can inhibit the very healthcare providers we need most from proactively planning for the state’s health in the near future.

In short, healthcare providers need to know that if they come to Alabama or begin plans to expand medical facilities within our borders, the state won’t spring costly and time-prohibitive regulations on them. They need the certainty that only legislative action, in the form of a 12-month suspension of these requirements as suggested by API in the RESTORE Alabama Plan, can provide.

This, of course, depends on the Governor calling a special session of the state legislature to address the coronavirus and its effects. And if she does, this issue will not likely be a controversial one. In fact, over 70% of Alabamians support this idea, according to a recent Cygnal poll.

Even so, it is an important move. The state government has the ability to inject some stability into a healthcare field riddled with questions. Doing so is in the best interest, not only of our healthcare system, but of our state as a whole.


MORE ON Economic Freedom

Keep a Weather Eye on the Horizon – A Legal Storm is Brewing

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the displeasure of being at sea when a major storm develops. It is disconcerting, to say the least. As the deck pitches and rolls, the mental review of the all-hands disaster planning takes place in the mind. Pulling into a safe harbor and putting feet on dry land […]

The RESTORE Alabama Agenda

Read the full RESTORE Plan here. The 2020 Regular Session of the Alabama State Legislature is behind us. Did anyone notice? It was a Session marked more by what didn’t happen than by what did. One minute the lobbyists were being paid well to try and get marijuana legalized, state budgets were flush, and gambling […]

Having Freedom is not Irresponsible

When Georgia’s governor announced that the state would allow some non-essential businesses to reopen, everyone had an opinion. What I heard and read most often, however, was how his lifting of restrictions was, “reckless” and “irresponsible.” I see a glimmer of hope in Governor Ivey’s recently issued “Safer at Home Order” as it lessens some […]

MORE ON Health Care

COVID-19 Highlights Need to Lessen Restrictions on Rural Medical Care

Dating back to the Obama administration, conservatives have criticized the impulse to “never let a crisis go to waste.” In truth, the impulse is not always wrong. Sometimes a crisis is a good time to address policy issues precisely because those issues would help alleviate the crisis at hand. This is certainly the case in […]

Statewide Radio: Phil Williams discusses medical marijuana on Viewpoint Alabama

API director of policy strategy Phil Williams recently appeared on Viewpoint Alabama, a weekly radio show that is broadcast on over 65 Alabama radio stations, to discuss the proposed medical marijuana legislation and its potential effects on everyday Alabamians. You can listen to the interview here. Viewpoint Alabama, January 25 and 26, 2020

MORE FROM Parker Snider

Mobile Radio: Parker Snider’s Discusses Masks in Class, Anchored in Alabama

API’s Director of Policy Analysis Parker Snider appeared twice this week on Mobile’s Archangel Radio. On Monday, Snider discussed API’s good news publication Anchored in Alabama. To listen, click here. On Thursday, Snider discussed Governor Ivey’s “Masks in Class” mandate. To listen, click here.

API Publishes Report Reviewing U.S. Supreme Court’s 2019-2020 Term

Birmingham, Ala. – Today the Alabama Policy Institute (API) released “The Supreme Court in Review: 2019-2020 Term.” The report details the most important cases decided by the Supreme Court during its most recent term and is to serve as a resource for reporters, elected officials, and others to understand the recent rulings and their potential ramifications. “Those […]

MOBILE RADIO: Supreme Court Redefines “Sex”

API director of policy analysis Parker Snider recently appeared on Mobile Radio to discuss the Supreme Court’s recent redefinition of “sex” to include gender identity and sexual orientation through its ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. You can listen to the interview here beginning at the 44:35 timestamp. LA Catholic Mornings, Archangel Radio Mobile […]