Maine Mental Health Providers Fault Slow Licensure Process
Fifty mental health professionals in Maine have sent a letter to the state attorney general’s office expressing concern about the amount of time it takes to become licensed, according to Maine Public Radio. Applications often take months to be processed, they claim, even as the COVID pandemic has increased demand for mental health services.
Calif. Barber Loses License Over COVID Protest
A California barber who remained open in violation of pandemic-related closure orders has had his license suspended by the state. According to NBCbayarea.com, Juan Desmarais, who owns Primo’s Barbershop in Vacaville, continued to operate in 2020 despite several warning letters from the state attorney general’s office. Desmarais now reports that the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has sent him a letter revoking his license and that of his shop, effective March 25.
Va. Lawmakers OK Marijuana Legalization
Lawmakers in Virginia have agreed to legalize marijuana, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. On Feb. 27, the state Legislature approved a bill that would set up a state agency to oversee a legal marijuana market. However, key decisions about the regulatory framework and new criminal penalties will be taken up in 2022. The bill now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has been supportive.
Texas Doctor Sentenced to 10 Years for $10M Scheme
Fort Worth Osteopath, Mark Kuper, was sentenced on Feb. 25 to 10 years in federal prison for a $10 million health care fraud conspiracy. Kuper, along with his wife and a physical therapist, fraudulently billed insurers for services that never happened. On multiple occasions, he billed as though he worked more than 100 hours in a single day. When he attempted to burn records in his home’s outdoor fireplace, the blaze destroyed his residence. Firefighters recovered some of the remaining charred records, according to the United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas.
States Fight Back from Pandemic Cyberattacks
In late spring, cybercriminals struck the unemployment system of Washington and several other states, stealing $36 billion in unemployment payments. Because of the cyberattack, Washington lawmakers this week introduced a bill to bolster cybersecurity, creating an Office of Cybersecurity. Other states taking action to strengthen cybersecurity include Minnesota, Maine, Texas and others. Meredith Ward, policy and research director at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said the cyberattacks during the pandemic highlighted the need for stronger protections, according to the Associated Press.
Texas Plumbing Licensing Requirements Eased to Cope with Texas Winter Storm
To help cope with the damage to pipes caused by the Texas winter storm, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot announced on Feb. 19 a plan to ease Texas’ plumbing licensing requirements. The plan includes giving provisional permits to out-of-state plumbers, along with waiving some fees and exams for plumbers with expired licenses, according to NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth.
Ga. House Bill Offers Protection from Physician Sex Abuse
The Georgia House approved a bill that offers patients new protections from sexually abusive doctors. The bill requires training on physician sexual misconduct and professional boundaries for doctors, medical students and medical licensing board members. In addition, the bill authorizes the Georgia Composite Medical Board to suspend or revoke a physician’s license, if found guilty of sexually assaulting a patient, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Feb.