NYSOTA response re: continuing competency regulations

I received an excellent response from Jeff Tomlinson about the recent continuing competency issues. I didn't want his response to get lost in comments, so I am posting it as an entry. There is a lot of good information here. I would really like to hear more about the direct access issue and problems in securing scripts for school aged children - sounds like something that could benefit from roundtable conversation.

Anyway, here is Jeff's response:

I have also been encouraged by another occupational therapist to check out this discussion.
We were certainly surprised by the speed with which the physical therapists were able to pass their mandatory continuing education bill. It was quite an accomplishment in a legislative session that passed very few bills that regulated the professions. I will be talking to the lobbyist and the leadership at NYPTA about how they got this done.

At the same time, it should also be noted that the PTs continuing education law is not like the NYSOTA's continuing competency bill. NYSOTA's proposal is much more consistent with the NBCOT continuing competency program and all the research that has been done over the last fifteen years on promoting professional competency. So in my own view, I'm concerned that a mandatory continuing education program will not be the best thing for the profession of physical therapy.

NYSOTA considers both the practice act amendments bill and the continuing competency bill a priority. We have asked legislators to combine the bills into one, and that request has been denied. We have been told that the practice act must be amended first so that the regulatory authority over the ota is straightened out first. Then the continuing competency bill will follow. We are certainly hoping that the continuing competency bill might move as quickly as the PT bill did, once the practice act amendment bill is passed.

Regarding splitting off the OTA section of the practice act amendments bill and passing that separately. NYSOTA has certainly considered this option since we consider the regulation of OTA practice an urgent public protection issue. However, at the same time we have another issue that may be considered by many to be just as urgent. We have learned over the last year that possibly hundreds of children in lower socio-economic school districts, face lengthy delays or receive no occupational therapy because of the prescription requirements in the practice act. We believe that the amendment allowing for direct access in non-medical conditions may address this issue. The idea that children are going without necessary OT services is very disturbing to me.

The biggest issue that we have had opposition to has been our addition in the definition of our practice of the concept that we address cognition. NYSOTA has fought hard for that cognition amendment and we have negotiated in good faith with our opposition, and we have made progress on the issue.

Finally, it is unfortunate but very common practice to combine less palatable, or less mobile legislation together with legislation that is easier to move. That is a reality in the legislative world. For example, the extension of the exemption process on the Medicare Part B Therapy caps was included in a bill with the physician fee schedule, a much more public and poular issue. The recent mental health parity legislation passed by the US Senate on Tuesday was included in a Tax bill! This is how legislation gets done. Our assessment is that many of the amendments in the OT bill would potentially languish for years if not attached to more urgent issues.

As far as I can recall I never saw the letter to NYSOTA regarding this issue, but, consider the silence broken. And always feel welcome to communicate directly with me at legislation@nysota.org

Jeff Tomlinson
NYSOTA Legislative & Government Relations Coordinator

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