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BOC Offers Model State Licensure Act
The Board of Certification/Accreditation, International (BOC) has developed a model state licensure act, available as a Word document at http://bit.ly/BOC-licensure-doc and as a PDF at http://bit.ly/BOC-licensure-pdf. The act is also accessible through the “Advocacy” section of the BOC website, www.bocinternational.org.
The model legislation was developed by BOC’s Licensure/Legislation Committee with assistance from Terry Supan, CPO, LPO, FAAOP, FISPO. Supan, who is president and CEO of Supan Prosthetic Orthotic Consultations, has been involved with state licensure activities since 1980, and is widely considered a national expert on O&P licensure matters.
BOC used the Georgia Practice Act as a starting point, modifying it to make it adaptable to other states as well as fair and equitable to the current and future professionals that deliver O&P care. Supan provided guidance to Georgia’s O&P organizations during their work to achieve licensure.
“BOC supports the concept of licensure,” says BOC president Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE, “but we have not supported some other model legislation efforts because we believe they do not sufficiently protect the interests of BOC practitioners, especially in the areas of practitioner qualifications and reciprocity. We have created a model act that won’t have the unintended consequences of denying patients access to care or keeping qualified practitioners from caring for patients.”
The 20-page model act has been approved by BOC’s Board of Directors. “In most cases, licensure is driven by statewide groups seeking to protect their patients,” Zacharias notes. “By supplying practitioners and O&P groups with a model that is adapted from a successful law that now has a track record, BOC is providing practitioners with a practical tool for forging that protection.”
Supan first became involved with licensure activities as president of the Illinois Society of Orthotists and Prosthetists during that group’s first attempt to establish licensure in Illinois. He was chair of the Society’s Licensure Committee both when the original Illinois Orthotic, Prosthetic & Pedorthic Practice Act was passed in 1999 and when the Act went through its sunset revision in 2009. He also serves on the state’s Licensure Board, where he was actively involved in drafting the Act’s administrative rules in 2000.
Supan’s on-the-ground experience made him a natural to chair the licensure committee set up by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC). Supan accepted ABC’s invitation, helping the organization to develop both its first ABC Model Practice Act and the ABC Licensure Handbook. He has also served on licensure committees with the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists and the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, and he has served as a consultant to state O&P groups working on licensure in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Louisiana, in addition to Georgia. O&P licensure is the law in several states, including Georgia, Oklahoma and Illinois; the matter is under consideration in many others, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Louisiana.
“In light of BIPA Section 427, I felt it was time for me to assist BOC,” notes Supan. “BOC has committed to the endorsement of the CAAHEP Education Standards by 2013. The BOC model upholds the principles of patient protection through professional educational standards or clinical supervision during care by non-licensed individuals.”
“For those of us whose day-to-day tasks involve hands-on care, developing model legislation is pretty dry work,” notes Sharon Nichelson, who as chairwoman of BOC’s Board of Directors is a member of all its committees, “but it is also essential work that requires input from practitioners. State legislators can’t be experts in every field, so they rely on allied health organizations to help them draft legislation that will benefit the residents of their state. On behalf of the Board and our certificants, I would like to thank Terry Supan and the members of our Committee for giving so much of their time to do a difficult job, because what they have done benefits both the rest of the O&P community and the patients we serve.”
Supan succinctly articulated the argument for licensure in an article in InMotion (Volume 9, Issue 6, page 27) in 1999 when he stated, “The difference between licensure and certification is the force of law. The state agency that regulates any health profession can prevent an individual from providing health care in that state. Certification or any other voluntary accreditation cannot provide the same safeguards to the public. . . . States that have passed legislation believe that the increasing population of elderly and physically challenged individuals who need O&P services requires that the O&P profession be regulated to ensure the provision of high quality services and devices.”
Members of BOC’s Licensure/Legislation Committee include: Zacharias; Kimberly Hertz, BOCO, CMF, committee chairwoman and secretary of the BOC Board; Board members Jim Newberry, BOCPD, BOCPO and Scott Baranek, BOCP; BOC chairwoman Sharon Nichelson, CMOF; BOC vice chairman John Kenney, BOCO; immediate past chairman Preston Madler, BOCO; Jose Ramos, the current “public member” of the BOC Board, specifically responsible for representing the public interest; JR Brandt, BOCO, BOC’s external relations director; Mickey Fitzgerald, owner and CEO of Dynamic Orthotics & Prosthetics, Atlanta, GA; and Teresa Alpert-Leibman, CMF, BOCO, BOCPD, a past chairwoman of the Board.
In addition to providing definitions and scopes of practice, BOC’s model gives legislators a framework for establishing practice standards, examinations, fees, penalties, license renewal and restoration procedures, continuing education requirements, sanctions if needed, a board to oversee the licensure process, and other aspects of regulation. Zacharias said the provisions make it easier for legislators, who may not have extensive O&P experience, to understand practice standards, and make it easier for the public to recognize qualified practitioners when they require their services. “Ultimately, the intent is to ensure access to the best care available.”
Since 1984, The Board of Certification/Accreditation, International (BOC) has provided credentials demonstrating the competence and proficiency of O&P professionals. BOC offers NCCA-accredited certification programs in five disciplines: orthotics, prosthetics, pedorthics, orthotic fitting and mastectomy fitting. BOC’s facility accreditation program partners with DMEPOS suppliers to meet standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and improve business practices. BOC credentials celebrate and recognize the competence, professionalism and safe practice environments of BOC-certified practitioners and BOC-accredited facilities.