As Fall begins on Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts Foot and Ankle Society (MFAS) continues to work with the Massachusetts legislature and regulatory agencies to not only protect the practice of podiatry, but to ensure its future growth.
On the legislative front, the MFAS has continued to push its legislation to include the treatment of the ankle as part of a podiatric physician’s scope of practice. The Joint Committee on Public Health will hold a public hearing on the podiatric scope of practice legislation, House Bill1869 / Senate Bill 1329, An Act Relative to the Practice of Podiatry, on Tuesday, November 19th. In preparation for a public hearing on this matter, MFAS continues to meet 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). To further educate legislators and staff, MFAS will be holding its first educational forum at the State House on October 16th.
In addition to MFAS’s legislative priority legislation, MFAS continues to focus 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, while the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a children’s wellness initiative at the end of July, there has been consistent speculation that another health care initiative including, but not limited to telehealth, prescribing practices and data reporting will be under consideration. MFAS will continue to monitor this legislation to ensure that podiatry’s interests remain heard.
With respect to the BORIM/BORP legislation (SB146 / HB1997), the legislation would allow for the BORIM to roll back podiatry’s current scope of practice. MFAS leadership has met with the leadership of both the Joint Committee on Public Health and the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection to explain how this legislation violates the United States Supreme Court’s determination in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, 135 S. Ct. 1101 (Feb. 25, 2015). Meetings with legislators and Committee staff have been positive, but vigilance must be maintained. Likewise, MFAS has met with leadership within the Baker-Polito Administration to educate them about this initiative.
On the regulatory front, MFAS continues work with the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure and the BORP in an effort to advance MFAS’s regulatory interests before the profession’s licensing board. Recent matters before BORP have included the impact of updated informed consent requirements, the move to only e-licensing within the state, the three year review of podiatry regulations and the identification of common infractions during office visits, if any. Please look for information soon about MFAS’s efforts before MassHealth to identify and correct certain procedural codes available to podiatrists. As well, MFAS has begun outreach with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to identify areas of mutual interest with respect to public health issues.
Again, there remains much work to do. With the everchanging health care environment in the Commonwealth, MFAS must remain focused. 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. Your voice is one of the strongest advocacy tools up on Beacon Hill.