Regulatory environment painful, expensive for small business

We have all heard the horror stories of regulations killing business by creating a web of red tape that it makes it difficult to operate, much less turn a profit. In Mississippi, the federal government seems to be hindering growth, innovation and expansion by burdening some of our health care facilities.

Just in North Mississippi are more than 8,000 licensed nursing home beds, and the regulations affect the care of, conservatively, 3,000 to 4,000 elderly and disabled Mississippians. Recently, we had the pleasure of visiting several nursing homes and most of them operate their first-class facilities like a fine-oiled machine. Like many nursing homes in North Mississippi, the residents all seem to have a big smile and appear to deeply care about their home, facility,and environment.

You see, most of the skilled nursing facilities in North Mississippi want to do everything by the letter of the law and go over and above to please their residents. However, the burdensome regulations placed on their small businesses and other similar nursing homes are a bit over-reaching. These onerous burdens require businesses like the ones in North Mississippi to hire additional employees just to manage regulations for tasks as routine as staffing records. Most of these facilities have reputations of excellence and strive to do things the right way, although these additional burdens cost business owners time, energy and resources. We believe their time could be better spent giving additional care to seniors or putting those resources into products or services for their residents.

Tim Askew, CEO of Corporate Rain International, referenced the problems small business owners face in a recent Inc magazine article. Askew said excessive bureaucratic interference with small business is exasperating year round. Simply put, the rules are confusing, unclear and contradictory.

“New government interventions, wage laws, labor rules, environmental regulations are sometimes well-intended,” Askew said, “but they have unintended business-killing, job-killing consequences.”

The skilled nursing facilities in North Mississippi understand the business principle that has enabled them to be successful: Companies are only as good as the employees they hire. Several nursing homes in North Mississippi happen to be some of the finest long term care facilities in the state with highly trained staff, but have to spend thousands of dollars annually to satisfy tedious overreaching federal regulations. These burdens cause business owners to maintain additional staff to keep up with and monitor the ever-changing federal rules that affect their facilities.

Out of control

Without question, starting and running a business is tough even without having so many rules and regulations. According to a piece written by Walter McGlaughlin in the New American, the number of new rules is out of control. In fact, in 2015, the U.S. had a record-breaking year for the most regulations issued. McGlaughlin says that under the Obama administration we’ve experienced the most regulations on a record six of the president’s seven years in office. The reason this issue is so important to Mississippians is that federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in lost economic productivity. They also increase prices to the tune of roughly $15,000 per household in 2014. At some point, if small businesses are going to succeed and hire more employees, these unbearable regulations must come to a halt.

According to several operators within Mississippi, our state regulations are fair and reasonable, but what makes it difficult for nursing homes to compete are the endless federal regulations that the industry has to manage throughout the day.

Consider just one unreasonable federal regulation that crosses the line of fairness. For a facility that manages 100 beds, it would have to spend about $1,000 per month just to run background checks on employees that other companies that provide in-home care don’t have to do. For certain companies to pay these fees and others who provide in-home care to get an exemption shows just how ridiculous the regulations can be and how uneven playing field is for skilled nursing facilities.

Thankfully, Mississippi has recognized the importance of removing the high cost of regulatory burdens on business and decided to do something about it. On April 23, 2012, Governor Phil Bryant signed the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act to remove unnecessary barriers to business growth by giving small business a voice in the rule-making process. Prior to this legislation passing, it was far too easy for state agencies to place rules and regulations on small business without any idea how they will affect operations of the business. Gov. Bryant said Senate Bill 2398 was important to create an environment where small businesses could flourish, creating the jobs, goods and services that Mississippi needs to grow and succeed.

With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, we can only hope that our federal government will follow Mississippi’s lead and loosen some of their unreasonable and unbearable regulations that occupy a majority of our vibrant, high quality nursing home’s employee’s time.

Conwell Hooper is executive director of the American Senior Alliance in Atlanta.

This article was featured as an Op-Ed on The Daily Journal.


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