By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
The House Health and Welfare Committee voted to temporarily hold a bill that would consolidate multiple licensure boards into one. The committee will reconsider the bill in two weeks.
HB28 would combine multiple licensure boards into a single regulatory board for physical therapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, polysomnographers, and respiratory therapists.
“Combining these boards will result in fewer board meetings, fewer board members, and lower expenses,” said Tim Frost of the Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses, who presented the bill to the committee.
Currently, some of these boards are under the Board of Medicine, and others are under the Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. Consolidating smaller boards into one larger board with a larger pool of resources can also help in rare cases of litigation, Frost said.
Lawmakers had concerns about whether the consolidation makes sense, as some of the occupations seem unrelated. Multiple stakeholders who testified agreed with that concern, saying an allied board would water down their interests.
“I cannot begin to express enough the unique needs of occupational therapy,” said Megan Doyle of the Idaho Occupational Therapy Association. “Our scope of practice is so big and broad.”
Jessica Kerns of the Idaho Athletic Trainers Association said the Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses didn’t do enough to reach out to those who would be affected by the change.
“There has been a tremendous lack of transparency so far,” Kerns said. “We were blindsided when these recommendations went public.”
After testimony, some committee members tried to kill the bill; That effort failed by one vote. Majority Leader Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, then asked Frost if he could get stakeholders together for a conversation in the next two weeks to discuss their concerns before the committee reconsiders the bill.
New bills introduced
The committee also introduced four new bills on Thursday morning, including two that would attempt to address healthcare worker shortages in Idaho. The proposals would:
- Make permanent the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which studies causes of death of pregnant patients and those who have been pregnant within a year of their death. The legislature established the committee in 2019 and scheduled it to sunset in 2023. This would remove that sunset clause;
- Remove certain restrictions to a visa waiver program for physicians who want to work in other countries;
- Establish a loan repayment plan for nurses who agree to work in rural, critical access hospitals for at least four years, and;
- Enshrine into code Idahoans’ rights to purchase vitamins in supplements.
The bills must get a public hearing before advancing.