•Updated licensure regulations were approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Allied Health Professionals in May 2014. Unfortunately they sat in transit to Governor Patrick's office for approval and public hearing.
•With Governor Baker's term starting in January 2015, part of his transition was Executive Order 562. He issued a "pause" on all boards, on all regulations. This "pause" will conclude in June 2016.
The Executive Order now requires all boards to review CURRENT regulations (not the new proposed regs) and eliminate the "confusing, unnecessary, redundant, and inconsistent".
•At the Allied Health Board meeting in May 2015, it was reported that the new proposed regulations would be considered too lengthy, particularly in contrast to our current, outdated, regulations and would not be looked upon favorably. However, some of the new regulations may in fact satisfy the executive order to eliminate the "confusing, unnecessary, redundant, and inconsistent". There is a reasonable expectation that the proposed regulations will be changed and it will be about reducing.
The purpose is based on the Office of Consumer Affairs with the questions, "Are the regulations going to make it more difficult to become licensed?" "Is there an additional burden to the consumer or licensee?"
The executive order requires ALL agencies to review their current regulations.
•A listening session was held on June 25, 2015. Representatives from OT and PT attended. (AT representatives were not available as they were at their national conference.) Additionally, written comments were submitted by MAOT on behalf of OT practitioners.
•The State has opened a portal for public comments as part of the Executive Order. In July 2015, MAOT submitted written comments to this portal and it has been acknowledged that our letter was received.
•In August, representatives from OT, AT, and PT have met with Charles Borstel, Director of Division of Professional Licensure, and Robert Fortes, Deputy Director for Policy and Boards, to discuss concerns with outdated regulations and the impact of the Executive Order.
The Allied Health Board, Mr. Borstel, and Mr. Fortes were provided with additional documentation about continuing education requirements in the State of Massachusetts and nationally. For the Division of Professional Licensure, there are 28 boards, 22 have continuing education requirements, 3 are under development, and 3 do not have any requirements (Barbers/Cosmetologists, Landscape Architects, and Allied Health Professionals). For the 50 states, only 6 do not have continuing education requirements for occupational therapy providers, Massachusetts being one of them.
•For the September Board meeting, MAOT submitted additional written comment regarding typographical errors and clarification of the screening process.
•For the October Board meeting, MAOT submitted suggestions for revisions to the current/outdated regulations to clear up "confusing" and "inconsistent" language, such as references to the AOTCB which disbanded in 1996, use of client versus patient, use of intervention versus treatment or services, referencing occupational therapy assistant versus occupational therapist assistant, and clarifying signature designations to OT/L and OTA/L. At the October meeting, the Board focused on clarifying language under designations and signatures, supervision, and documentation. Revisions were voted upon and approved. MAOT will be requesting a copy of this new document.
•The Executive Office for Administration and Finance is holding listening sessions throughout the state to hear feedback on all Executive Branch regulations. Representatives from MAOT attended a meeting on October 28th and presented testimony regarding outdated regulations and the impact of the Executive Order. This was chaired and attended by 9 executive officials and OT was able to "bend their ear" as this session had only one other testimony. Some of the feedback from this listening session suggests that there is an acknowledgement that a complete overhaul of regulations may be the way to go. This group was also provided with copies of letters sent to the Board since January 2013 and the additional documentation about continuing education requirements in the State of Massachusetts and nationally.
•As part of our national organization, AOTA, the Representative Assembly started meeting on October 28th. One section of the policies that are being reviewed is that licensure and legislation should include minimum continuing competence requirements for license renewal.
To find a listening session in your area, go to www.mass.gov/anf/regreview
To submit comments via email to RegReform@state.ma.us
To submit comments by mail to Executive Office for Administration and Finance, 24 Beacon Street, Massachusetts State House Room 373, Boston, MA 02133.
For more information on the Board of Allied Health Professionals, go to http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/ah/
MAOT is watching and reviewing a number of bills filed for habilitation services, concussion management, and redefining/separation of the Allied Health Board into separate components. PT has filed to become a separate board. We continue the discussion that we would like to be separate board and even consider moving from Division of Professional Licensure to Department of Public Health.
Health Care Reform/Access to Health Care:
We will be working over the next year to have occupational therapy included in some possible new Mental Health initiatives that are available to 24 states from SAMSHA.
We will continue to monitor any opportunities that present themselves for occupational therapy in the health, mental health and education areas.
For more information on legislative matters, go to http://www.malegislature.gov
Contact Karen Hefler, OTR/L, MAOT Government Relations Representative, firstname.lastname@example.org