W. Va. State Audit Highlights Need for Boards to Go Paperless
In a report dated June 12, 2022, from the W. Va. Legislative Auditors to the Post-Audits Subcommittee, several issues were identified with regard to website functionality and licensing. The Legislative Auditor analyzed all 34 of the States’ Chapter 30 Boards to include doctors, nurses, professional engineers and social workers. These Boards provide regulatory oversite and relevant information to the public.
While 59 percent of the Boards allow members of the public to file electronic complaints against licensees, 38 percent require the public to print and physically mail the complaint forms. Some require notarization as well, which the Legislative Auditor recommended that all Boards cease such a requirement. Seven of the 34 Board websites also lacked a direct link to disciplinary actions taken against licensees or an active licensee roster, which would allow the public to make more informed decisions when seeking the services of licensed professionals.
The domains for 22 of the 24 licensing boards also end in “.org” or “.com” and 6 of the Boards were not encrypted. For security as well as ease of identification, the Legislative Auditor recommends that all Boards consider encrypting their websites and register for a “.gov” domain.
The pandemic has accelerated the move to online licensure and paperless application. Eight of the 34 Boards still require licensees to submit paper applications for licensure renewal. Many Boards utilizing the State Treasurer’s lockbox for licensees to mail in licensee payments would find greater efficiency in an online system that would also mitigate the amount of revenue handled by staff. The Legislative Auditor also recommended that the individual licensing boards consider centralized web services by pooling their resources.
Going paperless creates greater efficiency for State Boards by streamlining workflow automation, give provide information to both the public and licensees, and decrease significantly the amount of paper processed as well as the amount of revenue handled by staff.
Death of Child Reveals Lack of Regulation for Calif. Day Camp Facilities
When Doug Forbes and his late wife, Elena, dropped off their 6-year-old daughter, Roxie, at a summer day camp in June 2019, they did not imagine they would then rush to the same hospital which she was born only less than one hour later, per an article by The Times of San Diego. Roxie had drowned in a pool.
What they discovered after seeking answers was a lack of oversight. In fact, the day camps are not even defined in state statutes therefore there has been no requirement for them to report to the State.
In May, for legislation carried by Assembly member Chris Holden, the state Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1737 to create oversight for the day camps. It now goes to the Senate. This bill would require all day camps to register and license with the state Department of Social Services, conduct background checks for all staff and require staff to be trained as “mandated reporters. It also would require non-government camps with activities like ziplining, archery, river rafting and riflery to submit operational and emergency plans and be subject to random inspections on an annual basis.
There are some critics of the legislation, saying that it is too broad and should also include government-run camps and be under the Dept. of Public Health, not Social Services.
Backlog at Ore. Nursing Board Creates Emergency Situation
Temporary licenses for thousands of nurses are expiring soon, while several thousand have not applied for permanent licenses, per the Oregon Capital Chronicle.
The State of Oregon issued nearly 9,000 emergency licenses to out-of-state nurses to fill the gap during a nursing shortage over the pandemic. These emergency licenses are set to expire June 30. The Board has a backlog of more than 2,000 applicants who are waiting for their applications to be processed. While the legislative Emergency Board gave the Nursing Board approval to hire two full-time staff members to help process, the usual two-week process is now at two months.
Health care companies can obtain an exemption that gives 120 days for their nurses during the application processing period, which will help with the backlog. Jana Bitton, the Executive Director of Oregon Center for Nursing states that there would be an advantage for Oregon to join the 39-state Nursing Compact. She expects the issue to be discussed in the next legislative session.
Patients Losing Access to Telehealth Doctors
As telehealth access is rolled back gradually as pandemic emergency health orders expire, patients are finding that they are no longer able to access their doctors in other states due to reimposed licensing regulations, per NBC News. A year ago, 26 states had pandemic-era waivers that allowed for residents to access doctors from other states virtually, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). This is now down to 12.
Concerns over abuses of the reciprocity that may compromise patient safety are stated by the FSMB. They have put forward a new model policy for states to potentially adopt that would support patients from state to state, while not accommodating full reciprocity.
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