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Respiratory therapists oppose deregulation of their occupation


Nineteen occupations in Michigan may no longer be regulated under a recommendation from the state's Office of Regulatory Reinvention, which is part of the state's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

In the health field, the occupations include respiratory therapists, dieticians and nutritionists, acupuncturists, ocularists (someone who makes and fits prosthetic eyes) and speech pathologists.

Mike Hess is a respiratory  therapist and is opposed to the deregulation.  He says the role of respiratory therapists is vital to the state's health care system.

"We manage ventilators for the critically ill, Hess says. "We teach parents and children how to manage disease like asthma. We run pulmonary rehabilitation clinics to help those with chronic conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis live full and even active lives."

He worries that patient safety will be jeopardized if his occupation is deregulated.

"We feel there would be a significant risk of harm to the public if we allow people who do not have extensive training to perform these respiratory functions," Hess says. "Michigan would be the only continental state that does not have licensure of respiratory therapists.

Hess says without monitoring, therapists who have lost their licenses in other states or engaged in criminal activities could come to work in Michigan.

According to LARA, the rationale for the deregulation is that the credentialing by the national organization provides sufficient qualifications to employers who hire respiratory therapist in lieu of licensing.  This was the practice prior to licensing and is still used by employers today, the agency says.

On its Website, LARA says a 2007 study found that for each occupation a state regulates, that occupation experiences a a 20-percent decrease in the rate of job growth. The agency says Michigan is the sixth-most heavily regulated state with respect to occupational licensing.

The agency says deregulation will reduce the size and cost of government and lead to better customer service.

Other jobs that would no longer be regulated include auctioneers, consumer finance specialists, forensic polygraph examiners, foresters, insurance solicitors, interior designers, landscape architects, immigration clerical assistants, professional employer organizations, security alarm contractors and vehicle protection product warrantors.