The Law Blocking Care for Special Needs Kids

“Why does Louisiana have the right to stop me from doing what I love to do?” asks Ursula Newell-Davis in my Video of the Week.

Newell-Davis helped many people. Newell-Davis is a social worker and has been working with children with special needs for over 20 years. It’s something she excels at.

“She helped teach me how to talk to people,” says Kamal, who never had friends before.

His mother adds, “She explained to me things that I didn’t understand about my kids.”

Many families were helped by Newell-Davis. She is adored by her clients.

Now she wants to help more kids by starting her own business focusing on “respite” work. “Respite” means acting as backup to a primary caregiver. These caregivers can fill in temporarily for one or more days to provide a respite.

“Someone that can go in and teach their child a different skill,” Newell-Davis says.

The woman has a bachelor’s, master’s and social work license. But Louisiana bureaucrats won’t let her do respite work unless she can prove “there is a need for an additional HCBS provider in the geographic location for which the application is submitted” and “the probability of serious, adverse consequences to recipients’ ability to access health care if the provider is not allowed to be licensed.”

What!? Why?

“Louisiana wants to limit how many agencies they have to regulate,” says Newell-Davis. “That makes it easy for the state.”

Is it easy for the state to do? That’s exactly the reason.

Anastasia Boden from the Pacific Legal Foundation assists Newell-Davis to sue Louisiana in an effort to declare the law unconstitutional.

“Louisiana gives you no clue about how to prove you’re needed,” says Boden. Even if they did, “That would be difficult for even the best entrepreneurs.”

I thought about my career and said, “I couldn’t prove that I’m needed.”

“The only way to find out is to open up your doors and try!” replies Boden.

Newell-Davis, however, is not allowed to do so.

She did what regulators asked. She paid their $200 fees, rented an office and explained the reasons she is required to do her job. She wrote pages on rising youth crime, and what respite could do for them.

But Louisiana said that wasn’t good enough.”

Louisiana rejects most applicants.

This is absurd. Children with special needs need extra help.

The government’s excuse: “Regulating is a resource-intensive process.” Rejecting applicants helps “limit the burden on regulators.”

A better way to reduce the time it takes to apply would be to streamline.

“Imagine if government argued that it didn’t have enough money to administer driver’s license exams,” says Boden. “That’s just not a legitimate excuse.”

I attempted to interview a regulator but he would not answer my emails or phone calls.

A Stossel TV producer then went to Baton Rouge.

You can see that the offices of government are very nice, as you will see from my video. It would be nice if they invested less in buildings and spent more time serving people.

One health officer after another was called by a security guard. The call went straight to voicemail.

Rejecting applicants is too much? Sleeping? Sleeping?

Later one sent us an email saying, “We’d be happy to work … on providing information.”

“Work on it?” Is providing information so hard? They must. They haven’t said anything for weeks.

39 states, however, have identical laws. They’re called “CON laws” because entrepreneurs must get “Certificates of Need” to open certain businesses. They have to prove that they are needed.

Certain states require it from moving companies and hospitals.

Kentucky’s CON law means that people have to wait longer before they can get to the hospital.

Louisiana is the only state to apply its CON law for respite care.

Sure enough, “Consumers in Louisiana are less satisfied with their care,” says Boden. “Complaints go up year after year.”

These laws remain in effect for a reason.

Because established businesses don’t like competition. They lobby legislators to defend them.

Consumers get screwed.

John Stossel is the author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.” 

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