Legislature addresses medical licensing issues

Legislators approved on the final day of their session a bill to streamline medical licensing and address regulatory issues in the medical field.

House Bill 280, an extension for the Board of Marital and Family Therapy sponsored by Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, was amended to include portions of Senate Bill 108 sponsored by Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, dealing with reforms requested by the state Medical Board.

The Board of Nursing has authority under current statues to regulate how “routine medical tasks” are delegated, yet the medical Board does not have similar authority. That put health care practitioners at risk of violating their licenses when they delegate routine tasks such as measuring a patient’s height, weight or blood pressure, a common practice in most clinics.

Insurers notified the Medical Board that malpractice premiums would rise if the issue was not resolved.

“In a state where access to health care can be difficult, and costs are already high, it’s important that legislators do what we can to help patients and providers,” Josephson said. “Good policies like this help incentivize doctors to work in our state and help reduce operating costs in local clinics.”

The bill was sent to Gov. Bill Walker for his signature.