HBA-EDN H.B. 3198 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3198 By: Maxey State Affairs 3/28/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In the interest of providing the health care consumer with helpful information concerning physicians, legislation passed by the 76th Legislature mandated the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners to provide profiles of its licensees for the public. These profiles are now available on the Internet. However, information that consumers may need in order to make informed decisions about their chiropractors, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, or pharmacists is not readily available to the health care consumer. Oftentimes, consumers must rely only on information from their insurance companies or by word of mouth. These methods are not comprehensive or objective. Information such as educational background, number of years licensed, and nationally recognized specialty certification, along with information on past criminal conduct and malpractice claims, could be helpful to consumers in making informed decisions when selecting a health care professional. To implement such a profile system would require the licensing authorities to create their own unique program software or the expansion of TexasOnline. The former may be somewhat inefficient, but the expansion of TexasOnline is feasible and would bring significant improvements to assist all licensing authorities across Texas. House Bill 3198 requires certain licensing authorities to create profiles of their licensees and expands the TexasOnline website to assist individual licensing authorities. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners in SECTION 3 (Section 201.206, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; the Texas State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners in SECTION 4 (Section 202.206, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; the State Board of Dental Examiners in SECTION 5 (Section 255.009, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; the Texas Optometry Board in SECTION 6 (Section 351.206, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; the Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners in SECTION 7 (Section 453.156, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; the Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners in SECTION 8 (Section 454.155, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in SECTION 9 (Section 501.207, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12; and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy in SECTION 10 (Section 555.013, Occupations Code) and SECTION 12 of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 3198 amends the Government and Occupations codes relating to the establishment of an electronic system for occupational licensing transactions (electronic system), public access to certain information regarding license holders, and fees imposed by occupational licensing agencies. H.B. 3198 amends the Government Code to require the Department of Information Resources (department) to administer a common electronic system using the Internet through which a licensing authority can electronically: _send occupational licenses, profiles of license holders, and other documents to persons regulated by the licensing authority and to the public; _receive applications for occupational licenses, complaints, and other documents for filing from persons regulated by the licensing authority and from the public, including documents that can be electronically signed if necessary; and _receive required payments from persons regulated by the licensing authority and from the public. The bill sets forth the licensing authorities which are required to participate in an electronic system and authorizes a licensing authority not listed in the bill to participate in the system, subject to department approval. The bill sets forth provisions relating to the implementation of an electronic system and requires the department to charge fees in amounts sufficient to cover the cost of implementation. The bill requires the department to adopt a schedule for implementing an electronic system not later than April 1, 2002, which shall permit the initial group of licensing authorities to perform their functions not later than September 1, 2002. The bill requires the department to report to the presiding officer of each house of the legislature and to the presiding officers of the committees of each house of the legislature that have primary oversight jurisdiction over the department or over a licensing authority listed in the bill, on the department's progress in implementing an electronic system. The bill establishes steering committees for electronic occupational licensing transactions and sets forth provisions relating to the composition and duties of each committee. H.B. 3198 requires each licensing authority and the department, no later than January 1, 2002, to appoint members of the steering committee. The bill specifies that provisions governing state agency advisory committees do not apply to the size, composition, or duration of the steering committee, and authorizes any reimbursement of expenses to a member of the steering committee to be paid only from funds available to the governmental entity the member represents (Secs. 2054.252-2054.254 and SECTION 12). House Bill 3198 amends the Occupations Code to require the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Texas State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners, the State Board of Dental Examiners, the Texas Optometry Board, the Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, the Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (examiners) to create a profile of each chiropractor, podiatrist, dentist, optometrist, therapeutic optometrist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, and pharmacist (licensee) or their related facilities of employment. The bill provides that a profile must be compiled in a format that permits the licensing authority to make the information contained in the profile available to the public. A profile must include information about the licensee's education, certification, years of practice, hospital privileges, office location, language abilities, criminal history, disciplinary action, accessibility for the disabled, history of complaints, and a description of the services provided (Secs. 201.206, 202.206, 255.009, 351.206, 453.156, 454.155, 501.207, and 555.103). The bill requires information required to be included in a profile that is not maintained by an examiner in the ordinary course of its duties to be obtained from a licensee or the facility where the licensee is employed at the time the licensee or facility renews the license or registration. In requesting information from a licensee, the examiner is required to inform the licensee or facility that compliance with the request for information is mandatory, inform the licensee of the date that information will be made available to the public, and instruct the licensee or facility about any requirements regarding correction of errors in the profile. These provisions do not prevent an examiner from providing explanatory information regarding the significance of categories in which malpractice settlements are reported or require an examiner to disclose confidential settlement information. The bill prohibits a pending malpractice claim or complaint from being disclosed to the public by an examiner, but does not prevent the examiner from investigating and disciplining a licensee or facility on the basis of such a claim or complaint. The bill requires an examiner to provide a licensee or facility with a copy of the profile upon request and to update the information contained in the profile annually. The bill also requires an examiner to adopt a form that allows a licensee or facility to update or correct information contained in the profile. The bill authorizes an examiner to adopt rules concerning the type and content of additional information that may be included in a profile and requires an examiner to adopt rules as necessary to implement these provisions (Secs. 201.206, 202.206, 255.009, 351.206, 453.156, 454.155, 501.207, and 555.013). H.B. 3198 prohibits the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners from adjusting a fee established on or before August 31, 2001, to an amount less than the amount of the fee on August 31, 2001 (Sec. 153.051, Occupations Code). The bill repeals provisions relating to the adjustment of fees by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners (SECTION 11). An examiner required to establish a profile system shall adopt rules not later than April 1, 2002, and make the initial profiles available to the public not later than September 1, 2003. The bill sets forth limits by which each examiner may prescribe required fee increases (SECTION 12). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.