Examining impact of High Court decision on dental and other licensing boards

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Shazam791 via Flickr

Photo: Shazam791 via Flickr

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners lacked the authority to regulate teeth-whitening businesses, experts observed that the decision might have impact far beyond the world of dentistry.

Licensing boards regulate hundreds of occupations across the country, everything from medicine and law to bee-keeping and fortune telling. Often the boards are comprised of members of the profession they are regulating. And as in the North Carolina case, there are times when these regulatory bodies run afoul of federal antitrust laws intended to ensure consumer choice and greater access to services.

“The object of the antitrust laws is to prevent private individuals who compete with each other in business from getting together and making agreements,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer observed as arguments were heard on October, 2014. “That kind of interest seems present here.”

Following the decision in the North Carolina case, concerned officials in a number of states turned to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to learn more about how the ruling might impact their own regulatory boards. In response, the staff of the commission’s Bureau of Competition last month issued guidance to help states weigh the implications of the decision.

Is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission causing officials in your state to re-examine the way professional boards are operating? If not, should they be?

In this new tip sheet you will find additional insights about the FTC guidance and related resources to help you explore these questions.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.