Several Bills Focus on Occupational Regulation

A number of bills are being reviewed by lawmakers that concern the occupational boards, regulations, supervision, and other matters.

Representative Julie Emerson’s bill to review and control occupational licenses was adopted on the House floor and is now HB 748. The bill was heard in committee and reported by substitute in a 14 to 0 favorable vote. It is scheduled for floor debate on April 5.

The proposed law creates the office of supervision of occupational boards “office” within the office of the governor. According to the digest, the measure causes a review of occupational licenses and reports to the legislature and attorney general so to recommend the legislature enact legislation that may do any of the following: (a) Repeal occupational regulations; (b) Convert the occupational regulations to less restrictive regulations as defined in R.S. 37:42; (c) Instruct the relevant licensing board or agency to promulgate revised regulations reflecting the legislature’s decision to use a less restrictive regulation. One aim is to increase economic opportunities, promote competition, and encourage innovation.

SB 494 is pending and would establish the Occupational Licensing Review Act. The measure is proposed by Senator Thompson and similar to HB 748. The proposal creates the office of supervision of occupational boards with the office of the governor and provides for repeal of occupational regulations and less restrictive regulations, similar to HB 748. Proposed law provides for interpretation of statutes and rules Proposed law provides for interpretation of statutes and rules so that occupational regulations shall be construed and applied to increase economic opportunities, promote competition, and encourage innovation; that any ambiguities in occupational regulations shall be construed in favor of working licensees, aspiring licensees, and persons aspiring to work in regulated occupations, and that the scope of practice in occupational regulations is to be construed narrowly so as to avoid its application to
individuals who would be burdened by regulatory requirements that are only partially related to the goods and services they provide.

Senator Fred Mills’ bill to restructure health care boards remains pending in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

He has paired down last year’s effort to restructure the health care boards, and is proposing SB40 which contains several of the components of last year’s SB75, including adding a consumer member to each board and removing the professional associations from
the board’s nomination process.

SB40 would transfer the extensive list of boards, commissions and agencies to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). Included will be the boards for psychology, counselors, social workers, and the other 22 healthcare boards. These are the boards for dentistry, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, medicine, physical therapy, speech-language, addictive disorders, vocational rehab, behavior analyst and others.

The proposed law adds at least one consumer member to any board that did not previously have one and provides standardized eligibility criteria of consumers to serve on any board.

Present law provides for professional trade associations and other entities to select and submit nominees to the governor for board appointment.

The proposed law opens board nomination eligibility to any member licensed by the board who is interested and eligible. Proposed law requires the board to send notice to its licensees to fill board positions and submit the names of those interested and eligible to serve to the governor for board appointment.

Representative Connick has put forth HB 372 aimed to also address aspects of the anti-trust matters surfaced by a 2015 Supreme Court decision.

The measure would create the Occupational Board Compliance Act. Policies provided in proposed law, are intended to ensure that occupational licensing boards and board members will avoid liability under federal antitrust laws. If passed the law would create the Occupational Licensing Review Commission to be composed of the governor, the secretary of state, and the attorney general or his respective designee. Establishes the governor as the chairman of the commission and the secretary of state as the secretary.

HB 372 would establish the commission’s responsibility for active supervision of state executive branch occupational licensing boards controlled by active market participants to ensure compliance with state policy in the adoption of occupational regulations promulgated by an occupational licensing board, according to the digest.

The present law provides for licensing of behavioral health services providers by the Louisiana Department of Health. The proposed law adds definitions for certified mental health professionals, community psychiatric supportive treatment (CPST), mental health rehabilitation, and psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) to the definition provisions of present law.

If passed the law would be named the “Behavioral Health Services Provider Licensing Reform Law.” At this point is would focus on qualifications for providers for CPST and PSR for Medicaid reimbursement.

“Proposed law provides that only a certified mental health professional or an individual who is not certified, but who met present law criteria for providing PSR services and did so on a full time basis for a year prior to August 1, 2017, may provide PSR services and be reimbursed by the department for providing the services.

“Proposed law provides that CPST shall be provided by a certified mental health professional with a master’s or doctorate in counseling, social work, or psychology from an accredited university or college.

“Proposed law provides that in order to receive Medicaid reimbursement for CPST or PSR services, the provider agency, certified mental health professional, or other individuals allowed by law, shall have a national provider identification number, be fully accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization, be licensed by the department, and be credentialed by the Medicaid managed care organization in which the provider intends to submit claims for services.”

CPST is a face-to-face intervention with the individual present. A minimum of fifty-one percent of CPST contacts must occur in community locations where the person lives, works, attends school, or socializes. “Mental health rehabilitation” means outpatient behavioral health services which are medically necessary to reduce the disability. These services are home- and communitybased and are provided on an as-needed basis. PSR is designed to assist the individual with compensating for or eliminating functional deficits and interpersonal or environmental barriers associated with mental illness.

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