REGULATIONS
Vol. 33 Iss. 11 - January 23, 2017

TITLE 18. PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING
BOARD OF MEDICINE
Chapter 80
Fast-Track Regulation

Title of Regulation: 18VAC85-80. Regulations Governing the Licensure of Occupational Therapists (amending 18VAC85-80-71).

Statutory Authority: ยง 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Public Hearing Information: No public hearings are scheduled.

Public Comment Deadline: February 22, 2017.

Effective Date: March 9, 2017.

Agency Contact: William L. Harp, M.D., Executive Director, Board of Medicine, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Richmond, VA 23233, telephone (804) 367-4558, FAX (804) 527-4429, or email william.harp@dhp.virginia.gov.

Basis: Section 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia authorizes the Board of Medicine to promulgate regulations to administer the regulatory system with a specific mandate enacted by Chapter 82 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly to include provisions for the satisfaction of board-required continuing education through the delivery of health care services, without compensation, to low-income individuals receiving health services through a local health department or a free clinic organized in whole or primarily for the delivery of those health services.

Purpose: The purpose of the amended regulation is to comply with the mandate of the General Assembly and provide an incentive for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to volunteer professional services to free clinics or public health centers. While a licensee can satisfy two hours of continuing education with six hours of volunteer service, he is still required to have at least 10 hours of Type 1 approved continuing education necessary to acquire new knowledge and skills and an additional eight hours of Type 2 continuing competency activities. All of the 20 hours required for biennial renewal may be Type 1 hours. Therefore, the public health is served by a potential increase in badly needed volunteer service for health care, but public safety is not sacrificed by eliminating most or all of the continuing education hours required for renewal.

Rationale for Using Fast-Track Rulemaking Process: The allowance of hours for volunteer service to be counted towards the continuing education requirement is a mandate of the General Assembly. A licensee is not required to provide volunteer service but may be credited with continuing education hours for doing so. The provisions are permissive and not controversial.

Substance: The board has adopted amended regulations to allow occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to count two hours of the 10 Type 2 hours required for biennial renewal to be satisfied through delivery of health care services, without compensation, to low-income individuals receiving health services through a local health department or a free clinic organized in whole or primarily for the delivery of those services. One hour of continuing education may be credited for three hours of providing such volunteer services, as documented by the health department or free clinic.

Issues: The advantage to the public is the incentive given for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to volunteer their services in exchange for credit towards meeting continuing education requirements. There are no disadvantages to the public. There are no advantages or disadvantages to the agency or the Commonwealth.

Department of Planning and Budget's Economic Impact Analysis:

Summary of the Proposed Amendments to Regulation. Pursuant to Chapter 82 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly,1 the Board of Medicine (Board) proposes to allow six hours of volunteer work to be substituted for up to two hours of continuing education biennially for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.

Result of Analysis. The benefits likely exceed the costs for all proposed changes.

Estimated Economic Impact. Chapter 82 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly requires all health boards to promulgate regulations to accept volunteer work provided to low-income individuals through local health departments or free clinics in lieu of the required continuing education. Pursuant to the legislative mandate, the Board proposes to accept three hours of volunteer work in satisfaction of one hour of continuing education from occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. The limit on the continuing education hours that can be satisfied by volunteer work is two hours every two years. Currently, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are required to take 20 hours of continuing education every two years for biennial renewal of their licenses.

The proposed change will allow affected practitioners to substitute volunteer work for continuing education. The educational value of volunteer services may vary depending on each person's experience. However, the two-hour limit on the continuing education hours that can be gained through this method is a relatively small portion of the biennially required 20 hours.

Also, it is not clear whether the ratio of required three hours per continuing education hour is sufficient by itself to provide enough incentives to offer volunteer service. It appears easier for practitioners to spend one hour acquiring continuing education than to spend three hours providing free services. However, it is reasonable to expect that the additional incentive provided by the proposed regulation would lead to increased volunteer hours by convincing practitioners who are indecisive at the margin about providing such services. The proposed regulation will also help those practitioners who have already been providing volunteer services at the qualified locations by allowing them to earn continuing education credit for their charity work.

In any event, the proposed regulation allows substitution of volunteer work for continuing education, but does not mandate it. A practitioner choosing to do volunteer work in lieu of the continuing education reveals that he or she benefits more from doing so.

Businesses and Entities Affected. Currently, there are 3,801 occupational therapists and 1,384 occupational therapy assistants licensed in Virginia. According to data provided by the Virginia Employment Commission, there are 898 establishments in the industry category of the affected entities, which include establishments of other health practitioners (e.g., offices of audiologists, pathologists, physical therapists, etc.) not directly affected by the proposed regulation. All of the 898 establishments in that category satisfy the small business criteria. The number of continuing education providers is not known.

Localities Particularly Affected. The proposed changes apply statewide.

Projected Impact on Employment. The proposed regulation may lead to a decrease in demand for continuing education services. However, the two-hour limit on the continuing education hours that can be gained through this method is a relatively small portion of the biennially required 20 hours.  In addition, the substitution of voluntary work for continuing education hours is voluntary and may not be exercised by all practitioners.

Effects on the Use and Value of Private Property. The potential impact on the asset value of continuing education providers is not known with certainty, but appears to be small.

Real Estate Development Costs. No impact on real estate development costs is expected.

Small Businesses:

Definition. Pursuant to ยง 2.2-4007.04 of the Code of Virginia, small business is defined as "a business entity, including its affiliates, that (i) is independently owned and operated and (ii) employs fewer than 500 full-time employees or has gross annual sales of less than $6 million."

Costs and Other Effects. All of the occupational therapy establishments are small businesses. The proposed amendments do not impose costs on them. Most providers of continuing education services are probably small businesses as well. The proposed regulation may decrease the demand for their services by a small amount.

Alternative Method that Minimizes Adverse Impact. There is no known alternative that minimizes the potential small adverse impact on providers of continuing education services while achieving the same goals.

Adverse Impacts:

Businesses. The proposed amendments do not have an adverse impact on non-small businesses.

Localities. The proposed amendments will not adversely affect localities.

Other Entities. The proposed amendments will not adversely affect other entities.

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1 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?161+ful+CHAP0082

Agency Response to Economic Impact Analysis: The Board of Medicine concurs with the analysis of the Department of Planning and Budget.

Summary:

Pursuant to Chapter 82 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly, the amendments allow occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to substitute six hours of volunteer work for two hours of the 10 Type 2 hours of continuing education required for biennial renewal.

18VAC85-80-71. Continued competency requirements for renewal of an active license.

A. In order to renew an active license biennially, a practitioner shall complete the Continued Competency Activity and Assessment Form that is provided by the board and that shall indicate completion of at least 20 contact hours of continuing learning activities as follows:

1. A minimum of 10 of the 20 hours shall be in Type 1 activities offered by a sponsor or organization recognized by the profession and may include in-service training, self-study courses, continuing education courses, specialty certification, or professional workshops.

2. No more than 10 of the 20 hours may be Type 2 activities, which may include consultation with another therapist, independent reading or research, preparation for a presentation, or other such experiences that promote continued learning. Up to two of the Type 2 continuing education hours may be satisfied through delivery of occupational therapy services, without compensation, to low-income individuals receiving services through a local health department or a free clinic organized in whole or primarily for the delivery of health services. One hour of continuing education may be credited for three hours of providing such volunteer services as documented by the health department or free clinic.

B. A practitioner shall be exempt from the continuing competency requirements for the first biennial renewal following the date of initial licensure in Virginia.

C. The practitioner shall retain in his records the completed form with all supporting documentation for a period of six years following the renewal of an active license.

D. The board shall periodically conduct a random audit of at least one to two percent of its active licensees to determine compliance. The practitioners selected for the audit shall provide the completed Continued Competency Activity and Assessment Form and all supporting documentation within 30 days of receiving notification of the audit.

E. Failure to comply with these requirements may subject the licensee to disciplinary action by the board.

F. The board may grant an extension of the deadline for continuing competency requirements for up to one year for good cause shown upon a written request from the licensee prior to the renewal date.

G. The board may grant an exemption for all or part of the requirements for circumstances beyond the control of the licensee, such as temporary disability, mandatory military service, or officially declared disasters.

VA.R. Doc. No. R17-4958; Filed January 3, 2017, 9:41 a.m.