With the 2019-2020 legislative session approaching the quarter-way mark, the Massachusetts Foot and Ankle Society(MFAS) continues its work before the Massachusetts legislature and regulatory agencies.While the preceding session saw virtually all scope of practice measures, including our own, hung up in the Conference Committee on health care reform, the positive news is that both the House and Senate acted on the issue of scope of practice.But for differences in developing mechanisms for funding community hospitals, the Massachusetts legislature would have advanced a remedy for the outdated scope of practices in this state.It is our hope that this momentum leads to action in the 2019-2020 legislative session.
In the meantime, with the start of the new session, MFAS is again focused on a wide breadth of issues impacting podiatric physicians and your patients. On the legislative front, the MFAS has refiled its legislation to include the treatment of the ankle as part of a podiatric physician’s scope of practice.Our lead House sponsor, Representative Paul Donato, the House’s 2ndAssistant Majority Leader, filed House Bill1869, An Act Relative to the Practice of Podiatry while our Senate sponsor, Senator Marc Pacheco, has refiled Senate Bill 1329, An Act Relative to the Practice of Podiatry.Both bills have been assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Health, which will likely hold a hearing on these matters in late Fall.In preparation for a public hearing on the matters, MFAS has already been meeting with legislative leadership and members of the Joint Committee on Public Health as well as coordinating complementary advocacy efforts from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
Of additional note this session, among the over the one hundred plus matters the association is monitoring or advocating on MFAS is focused on two particular legislative initiatives – health care reform and a proposal that would give the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM) direct oversight over the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Podiatry (BORP).On the first item, health care reform, MFAS is anticipating that the Massachusetts legislature will begin putting together legislative packages in late Fall-early Winter.As the previous health care reform efforts have done, there are often a variety of measures that impact the profession, including, but not limited to telehealth, prescribing practices and data reporting, among others.With resect to theBORIM/BORP legislation (SB146 / HB1997), the legislation would allow for the BORIM to roll back podiatry’s current scope of practice.Fortunately, the legislation is likely violative of the United States Supreme Court’s determination inNorth Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission,135 S. Ct. 1101 (Feb. 25, 2015).Neverthless, MFAS has met with House and Senate leadership to ensure that this legislation, which could harm the profession, does not advance.
In addition to its legislative advocacy, MFAS continues to play a vocal part before Massachusetts regulatory agencies. Already this year, MFAS leadership has met with Undersecretary Lauren Peters of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Charles Borstel, and Commissioner Diane Symonds, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure, the parent agency for the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Podiatry as well as the Office of the Attorney General to highlight issues impacting the practice of podiatry within the state.In addition, MFAS continues to work with the BORP, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of Medicaid and the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to ensure that podiatry has a seat at the table in all decisions that impact the profession.
With that in mind, there remains much work to do.With the everchanging health care environment in the Commonwealth, MFAS must remain vigilant.To that end, the success of the MFAS relies on its membership.Whether attending Board meetings, meeting elected officials or attending MFAS Town Halls, the best tool the MFAS has to educate key decision makers about the practice of podiatry, podiatric physicians and your patients’ needs is the membership.If you receive information from the MFAS asking you to make a call, send an e-mail to an elected official or attend a meeting, please do so.At the same time, if you know of an issue that has come up that will impact the profession, let MFAS know.Working together, podiatric physicians can not only strengthen MFAS, but advance the profession within the Commonwealth on the legislative and regulatory fronts.