State legislatures still pushing to expand role of non-MD health professionals

According to the American Medical Association, last year more then 300 bills were filed that would expand the scope of practice available to non-MD medical professionals, including naturopaths, chiropractors and lay midwives. The AMA fought vigorously against such expansions and in some cases, shot down the bills in question.

This year, states are expected to keep up this push, according to the AMA, which intends to oppose most, if not all, of such scope-of-practice expansions. For example, the AMA has helped draft model legislation that would require state legislators to establish scope-of-practice review panels.

As designed by the AMA, these panels would review plans by non-physician trade groups to expand practice options for non-physician health professionals. These panels, which would include regulatory board officials, university experts and other healthcare advisers, would advise lawmakers on medical, education and public health concerns that might arise from such expansions.

The AMA also is offering states model legislation that would require non-physicians to identify their credentials clearly, by such means as wearing badges or limiting carefully their use of the term "doctor." Such laws passed in 2009 in California and Oklahoma.

Expect to see more legal and legislative fights over this issue throughout 2010. The AMA seems pretty committed to stopping non-doctors from performing MD-type activities, notably surgery and drug prescribing.

To find out more about this issues:
- read this American Medical News piece

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