State regulations reduced during pandemic, do they need to return?

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Coronavirus brought with it emergency declarations and, in some cases, the waiving of regulations and requirements on certain industries. On Tuesday, a state House committee discussed which of those pre-pandemic rules never need to return.

Only nuclear power plants are more regulated than nursing homes in Pennsylvania. Too much red tape says Zach Shamberg of the Pa. Health Care Association.

“We have identified the shortcomings of this pandemic response and demanded immediate action,” PHCA’s Zach Shamberg said.

Shortcomings like requiring long-term care facilities to input patient info into seven different databases every day. He argues one should be sufficient.

“Allowing providers to do what they do best and that’s care for residents rather than spending their time in front of a computer filling out paperwork,” Shamberg said.

Shamberg’s statement caught the attention of State Representative Martin Causer (R), chair of the Majority Policy Committee.

“That was eye-opening to me I had no idea,” Causer said.

Chairman Causer said COVID paused some requirements that should stay paused post-pandemic.

“We need to take a closer look at these regulations because do we really need them going forward?” Causer asked.

Republicans do want one regulation reinstated. The one that requires the unemployed to look for work. They say companies can’t find employees who are making more to stay home.

“There are some people who are really struggling out there, but there are some able-bodied people who minimally need to be applying for jobs to get the unemployment,” Rep. Bud Cook (R-Fayette, Washington) said.

Nursing homes have the same struggle for employees, but staffing and licensing requirements were waived during the pandemic and it helped.

“We realized a year later we don’t need all these regulations. Pennsylvania is well known for regulating everybody to death,” Rep. Jim Rigby (R-Cambria, Somerset) said.

Of course, that’s never an easy line to straddle: On one hand, wanting to keep people safe. On the other, wanting to cut regulations.

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