Interstate telehealth visits in jeopardy as pandemic licensure waivers expire: Weekly regulatory news
WiB Regulatory news July 18
The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy. Delaware lawmakers introduce occupational licensing reform for residents with some criminal records, Alabama releases draft regulations for medical cannabis industry, and more in our latest weekly look at the world of regulation.

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State lawmakers vote to lower career barriers for Delawareans with criminal records 

In a bipartisan effort, Delaware’s General Assembly recently passed occupational licensing reform bills that will help some residents with criminal records enter licensed occupations in the state. The legislation forbids professional licensing boards from turning away applicants because of certain types of criminal histories, such as charges that are pending and did not lead to a conviction; juvenile charges; records that have been expunged, sealed or pardoned; and convictions that are more than 10 years old. Lawmakers made some exceptions, retaining licensing restrictions for people convicted of sex crimes and allowing consideration of convictions for financial crimes – an exception relevant in fields like real estate in which financial management is a key responsibility. The bills now await a signature from Gov. John Carney. Read more from Delaware Public Media 

Interstate telehealth visits in jeopardy as pandemic licensure waivers expire 

A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan looking at trends in interstate telehealth uptake during the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that the elimination of pandemic licensure flexibilities will impact different states to varying degrees while also affecting care delivery for both established patients and individuals in rural areas. Researchers analyzed trends in interstate telehealth use by Medicare beneficiaries during 2017–2020, finding that the volume of interstate telehealth use rose sharply during 2020 (although it remained a relatively small share of all outpatient and telehealth visits). They found that most out-of-state telehealth use was for established patient care and that a greater proportion of rural patients — 28% — used out-of-state telehealth, while 23% of rural patients did not receive care outside of their state at all. As the vast majority of telehealth licensure flexibilities enacted during the emergency phase of the pandemic have expired, or are set to expire, the authors noted that it will be important for state policymakers to enact permanent telehealth policies in an evidence-based manner. Read more at Fierce Healthcare 

Pa. Gov. signs executive order to protect abortion seekers traveling from other states 

With a new executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania has joined New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut in offering protections for out-of-state people seeking reproductive health services, including abortion. The order bars any agency, board, or commission that answers to the governor’s office from using Pennsylvania resources to help another state’s investigation into a patient seeking reproductive health services, or the providers helping them. It also directs executive agencies to work with the professional licensing boards under their purview to consider policies that would protect providers from being disciplined or losing their licenses for assisting out-of-state people in accessing reproductive health services. The results of the gubernatorial election in November will likely determine whether the order, as well as the state’s current abortion laws, remain in place. Read more from The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Dallas seeks more regulations for massage parlors to clamp down on sex trafficking 

With help from law enforcement, Dallas is considering ways it could further regulate massage parlors in an effort to snuff out illegal activity related to prostitution, money laundering, and human trafficking. Massage therapy businesses are regulated and licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations, but reflexology therapy businesses are not included. City Council member Cara Mendelsohn wants to look into how they can regulate reflexology establishments as well as ways that Dallas police could be deputized by the Department of Licensing and Regulations to conduct the inspections of the city’s massage businesses, which could help the city increase fines for violations. She also hopes that Dallas can implement regulations for massage parlors adopted by other cities, such as requiring customers to enter through the front door, prohibiting sleeping quarters, and mandating a 1,000-foot buffer between businesses. Read more from The Dallas Observer 

Alabama regulators release draft rules for medical cannabis industry 

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission has released draft rules for the state’s forthcoming medical cannabis industry. Regulators held a public hearing on July 14 to gather feedback on the proposed regulations, and the commission is continuing to accept public comment through its website until Aug. 5. The commission will vote on the rules in their August meeting and will release the final version by the end of the month. Applications for medical marijuana grower, processor, integrator, transporters, and dispensary licenses will open on Sept. 1, with sales expected to launch in spring 2023. Read more from Cannabis Business Times  

More news:  

  • An unlicensed therapist who withdrew his application for licensure after the College of Psychologists of B.C. launched an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct is now being investigated by the RCMP for allegedly charging parents for autism assessments he was not qualified to perform. 
  • A former dentist was arrested on misdemeanor charges in Topeka, Kansas for allegedly practicing dentistry after his license was revoked. 
  • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario issued a $100,000 fine to DraftKings Sportsbook after the company advertised boosted odds to the public through TV and social media channels, which violated the province’s sports betting regulations.  

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Ariel Visconti
Written byAriel Visconti
Ariel Visconti researches and writes on government and politics, regulation, occupational licensing, and emerging technologies.

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