Measure Addresses Application Backlog and Prevents Increase in Malpractice Premiums

Juneau – In a bipartisan effort to improve health care, the Alaska Legislature acted to streamline medical licensing and addressed regulatory issues in the medical field on the final day of session. House Bill 280, an extension for the Board of Marital and Family Therapy sponsored by Representative Andy Josephson (D—Anchorage), was amended to include portions Senate Bill 108 sponsored by Senator Giessel (R—Anchorage), which dealt with reforms requested by the state Medical Board.

Under current statute, the Board of Nursing has the authority to regulate how “routine medical tasks” are delegated, but the Medical Board does not have similar authority. Thus, health care practitioners risk violating their licenses when they delegate routine tasks such as measuring a patient’s height, weight, or blood pressure—a common practice in most clinics. Insurers notified the Medical Board that malpractice premiums would rise if the issue was not resolved. 

“In a state where access to healthcare can be difficult, and costs are already high, it’s important that legislators do what we can to help patients and providers. Good policies like this help incentivize doctors to work in our state and help reduce operating costs in local clinics. It’s a win-win for Alaskan healthcare. I commend Senator Giessel for her work on this issue and for introducing SB 108. I was happy to collaborate with the other body to get these measures passed,” said Representative Josephson.

HB 280 was also amended to allow the Medical Board executive secretary to approve clean applications. There has been a recent influx of applications which has resulted in a backlog because the board only meets four times a year.

“In a state that needs more doctors, it’s not okay for qualified applicants to wait months on end for their applications to be processed. We have to do better than that,” Rep. Josephson said. “Allowing the executive secretary to approve applications that have no issues will help put doctors to work.”

The regulatory authority language was amended into House Bill 280 on the last day of the legislative session and the combined package passed both the Alaska House and Senate unanimously. House Bill 280 will now be sent to Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, please contact Megan Holland in Rep. Josephson’s office at 465-4939.

Drew Cason
Deputy Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 575-2068
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