Police Chief of Alabama Town That Was Getting Fat on Fines Steps Down Amid Bipartisan Outrage

“Police being able to keep what they seize is one of the primary motivators for fine and forfeiture abuse, and it’s obvious to everybody except for the mayor and the police department that’s what was happening in Brookside. Without that incentive, the police would not be sniffing around every single car it comes across for a potential score.”

FTC Drills Alabama Licensing Board for Anti-Competitive Scheme Targeting Teledentistry

“As part of a consent agreement announced Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama would stop enforcing rules that limited “consumer choice and excluded new providers” offering braces and other teeth alignment services.

Those rules were crafted in 2017, after startups like SmileDirectClub began operating in Alabama. According to the FTC, the board took steps to stop the expansion of “firms providing clear aligners in Alabama through a teledentistry model” by amending its rules to ban dental hygienists and other medical professionals from performing the scans that are necessary to ensure proper fitting of the alignment devices. Previously, licensed dentists were allowed to supervise the scans from a remote location. Under the new rules, they would have to be on-site when the scans were done.

Over the next two years, the board delivered cease-and-desist letters to providers who offered those services without on-site licensed dentists.

“The actions of the Dental Board have deprived consumers in Alabama of low-price, convenient options for teeth alignment treatment without any legitimate justification or defense,” the FTC argued in a complaint against the board. Those actions, the commission says, “unreasonably restrained competition” and violated federal law.

The case is a sequel to the FTC’s 2015 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case challenging anti-competitive behavior by a similar board in North Carolina. In that instance, the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners sent cease-and-desist letters to kiosks offering teeth whitening services. The practice of whitening teeth, the board declared, could only be done by licensed dentists.

When that case ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices ruled that licensing boards controlled by a majority of “active market participants” could not make deliberately anti-competitive rules—unless those boards were “actively supervised” by some other element of state government. As a result of that ruling, licensing boards enforcing anticompetitive rules could be sued for violating federal antitrust laws.

The ruling opened up a new legal avenue for challenging overbearing licensing boards that limit economic opportunities by blocking competition in certain professional fields. It was a resounding defeat for overreaching state regulation and “the culmination of 15 years of effort” Maureen Ohlhausen, then-chair of the FTC, told Reason shortly after the ruling.

That case laid the groundwork for the more recent actions in Alabama, where six of the board’s seven members are required by law to be licensed, actively practicing dentists. And the board’s actions are not “reviewed or approved by any neutral state officials with the power to veto or modify” its decisions, the FTC found.

Under the terms of the consent agreement struck between the FTC and the Alabama dental board, the board does not admit to violating any laws or to engaging in the alleged anti-competitive behavior. But, going forward, the board has agreed to stop requiring on-site supervision by licensed dentists of the alignment scans necessary for teledentistry services.

That should give residents of Alabama—some 1.8 million of whom live in areas deemed to have a shortage of dental professionals and could clearly benefit from a greater supply of teledentistry services—something to smile about.”

Alabama’s Dumb Health Care Regulations Helped Create a Shortage of ICU Beds

“An insufficient supply of ICU beds is one of the acute crisis points of the pandemic. When hospitals run out of room to treat patients who need the most help, doctors and hospital administrators must make difficult triage decisions. This affects not just COVID patients but anyone else who might be in urgent need of medical care—car crash victims or those who’ve had heart attacks—and it almost certainly means that some people will die who otherwise may have survived.

It’s a crisis that has been made worse by outdated and ineffective government regulations—known as “Certificate of Need” (CON) laws—that actually reduce the number of available hospital beds by requiring that hospitals get permission from the state before adding capacity.

In Alabama, which is one of 27 states that subjects the supply of hospital beds to CON oversight by the state, we’re now seeing some of the consequences of these rarely thought-of policies. While the surging number of serious COVID cases there and elsewhere across the country is largely the result of unvaccinated Americans being hit by the highly contagious delta variant, a restricted supply of hospital beds is not helping.

Since March 2020, states that use CON laws to regulate the supply of hospital beds have seen an average of 14.99 days per month where ICU capacity has exceeded 70 percent, according to Matthew Mitchell, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center who crunched Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data and shared his findings with Reason. Meanwhile, states that do not have CON laws governing the supply of hospital beds have seen an average of just 8.65 days per month with ICU capacity exceeding 70 percent, according to Mitchell.”

Alabama governor says ‘it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks’ as pandemic worsens

“Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an impassioned plea for residents of her state to get vaccinated against Covid-19, arguing it was “time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks” for the disease’s continued spread.

“I want folks to get vaccinated. That’s the cure. That prevents everything,” Ivey, a Republican, told reporters in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday.”

“Alabama remains the state with perhaps the lowest vaccination rate in the country, according to the CDC: Only 39.6 percent of its residents 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, compared to the 48.8 percent of Americans nationally who have gotten their shots.”

“The Delta variant now represents more than 83 percent of the virus circulating in the United States, according to the CDC, and unvaccinated people account for 97 percent of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths nationally.”

Justice Department Sues Alabama Over Its Violent Prison System

“After more than a year of warnings that Alabama’s gore-soaked prison system violates the Constitution, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state on Wednesday for its failure to prevent violence and sexual assault against incarcerated men.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division alleges in its civil rights complaint that Alabama’s prison system for men is overcrowded, unsanitary, and that it is deliberately indifferent to the frequent and often deadly assaults against inmates, violating the Eighth Amendment and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.”