Ohio OP&P Licensure to be Maintained Under Board Consolidation

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On June 30, Governor John Kasich signed Ohio's Biennium Budget Bill (H.B. 49). The bill contains language to maintain state licensure for prosthetists, orthotists, and pedorthists. The language calls for administration of OP&P licensure (Ohio Revised Code 4779) to be transferred to the Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers (OTPTAT) Board. The OP&P professions will be represented through an advisory council but will hold no seats on the board. (Editor's note: To access the Ohio Revised Code, visit http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4779.)

The Ohio state administration had attempted board consolidation in the past to reduce bureaucracy and overhead costs, but the efforts had been rejected due to strong opposition from a number of state boards and their stakeholders. Late in this year's House proceedings, it appeared that consolidation would again be taken off the table. However, when the final House version of H.B. 49 was released, several healthcare-related boards were in for some surprises. One of the biggest surprises was the abolishment of the Ohio State Board of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (OPP Board), which was created in 2001. As a small, independent, and self-standing board, it had been a target for consolidation.

The House Finance Committee omnibus amendment included language to abolish the OPP Board and Ohio OPP licensure. The committee's rationale for the action was never clarified. Subsequent advocate testimony during hearings held by the House Finance Committee were unsuccessful in producing changes to restore OP&P licensure.

However, when the issue reached the Senate Finance Committee, several committee members noticed the abolishment of OP&P licensing regulations. The Ohio OP&P community had advocated for an amendment that would have consolidated the Respiratory Care Board, including home medical equipment (HME), and the OPP Board. This model seemed to make sense based on federal regulations, and the Senate subcommittee members indicated an amendment would be offered, but none was adopted in their version.

What finally resulted from the Senate and Conference Committee deliberations over a draft of other amendments was a transfer of OP&P administration to the OTPTAT Board. The Respiratory Care Board was also abolished, and that sector was moved to the Ohio Medical Board. HME will be transferred to the Pharmacy Board.

It may be interesting to note that OP&P was not the only medical/healthcarerelated board to get absorbed into another board. It was, however, the only one that was initially axed.

With other challenging healthcare issues taking top billing, providing education about the benefits of OP&P was and continues to be a challenging endeavor.

Background

One of the arguments used by the Republican lawmakers to consolidate boards was related to antitrust concerns raised by a February 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners versus Federal Trade Commission. Language was drafted in Ohio's budget bill to address antitrust concerns and authorize the director of the Department of Administrative Services to void any board action determined to constitute price-fixing or restricting competition. Opponents of the consolidation language tried to persuade House members that antitrust concerns could be addressed without totally restructuring boards, but that message was rejected.

As of this writing, there are questions related to the transfer of the licensing duties, formation of the advisory council, and potential impact, if any, on stakeholders.

I invite representatives from other states to share their experiences with state licensure.

Dianne Farabi is the executive director of the Ohio Orthotics and Prosthetics Association. She can be contacted at dfarabi@columbus.rr.com..