Legislative Activity 2018-2019
The 191st Massachusetts legislative cycle began in January 2019 and will run until the end of 2020.
H.1000/S.550 An Act Relative to Mental Health Providers (Support)
Based on feedback from a membership survey and discussions at the 2018 MAOT annual conference, one bill, An Act Relative to Mental Health Providers (HR1000/S550), was filed by Sen. Nick Collins and Rep. Natalie Higgins.
The bill proposes to amend current law to include “occupational therapist” and “occupational therapy assistant” to the definition of “qualified mental health provider” in Massachusetts. This proposed change will allow clients with mental health and/or substance abuse diagnoses to further expand services available to them to achieve functional, independent, and meaningful lives.
The bill was referred to the committee of Financial Services and a hearing was held on July 9, 2019. Over a dozen MAOT members presented oral testimony and 18 MAOT member provided written testimony in support of this bill. The bill remains in joint committee – no future hearings or votes are currently scheduled.
H.991/S.621 An Act Advancing and Expanding Access to Telemedicine Services (Support)
This bill encompasses expansion of telemedicine services to populations with Massachusetts. Occupational therapy services are included in this bill. This bill was filed by Rep. Thomas Golden and Sen. Jason Lewis. A joint hearing was held on October 1, 2019. Written testimony by MAOT was provided in favor of this bill.
H.3483/S.1338 An Act Relative to Athletic Training (Opposed)
This bill, which was filed by Sen. Michael Rush and Rep. Edward Coppinger, proposes increased scope of practice for athletic trainers beyond athletic injuries to include injury and illness. The scope of practice is intended to include patients, in addition to athletes, and encompass patients within community settings outside of athletic environments. This bill is in committee and a hearing has not been scheduled. Given the concern for infringement on occupational therapy practice, MAOT has prepared a written statement opposing this bill.
On July 27, 2017, the Board of Allied Health unanimously passed continuing competency regulations, 259 CMR 7.00, requiring 24 units per 2-year cycle will be required for state licensure renewal; however, these regulations ae not yet effective s the proceed through the regulatory process. A representative from MAOT attends most of the monthly Board of Allied Health meetings and reports back to MAOT membership.
Interstate Licensure Compact
In September 2019, AOTA and NBCOT announced a four-year collaboration to create an interstate licensure compact for the OT profession. This compact would allow for reciprocity for OT professionals to practice across state lines. Continuing education practice, which is not currently required in Massachusetts, may pose as a barrier for inclusion and thus, MAOT continues to lobby in support of these efforts.
For more information on legislative matters, go to http://www.malegislature.gov or contact the MAOT Government Relations Representative, Sarah McKinnon, OT, OTD at sarahmckinnonOT@gmail.com