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FSMB Testifies in Opposition to Pennsylvania HB 1741

Chairwoman Rapp and Members of the Committee,

My name is Lisa Robin and I am the Chief Advocacy Officer of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). On behalf of the FSMB, I would like to take this opportunity to express our opposition to House Bill 1741.

The FSMB is a national, non-profit organization, representing the 70 state medical and osteopathic licensing and disciplinary boards of the United States, its territories and the District of Columbia. These boards are generally referred to as “state medical boards.” The FSMB supports these boards as they engage in their statutory mandate of protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare through the proper licensing, disciplining and regulation of physicians and, in many states, other health care professionals.

The FSMB develops and maintains policies and guidelines based on regulatory best practices and, since 1956, has maintained current guidance for model medical practice acts and the corresponding structures and functions for the authority and operations of effective state medical boards. Accordingly, the FSMB is well positioned to comment on HB 1741.

State medical boards play a vital role in protecting patients and they must have the requisite resources and authority in order to do so. If passed, House Bill 1741 would set a dangerous precedent for medical regulation generally by hindering the ability of state medical boards to fulfill this role.

While the FSMB does not comment on any particular treatment or disease outlined in this bill, we are extremely concerned about the overall impact HB 1741 would have on patient safety in Pennsylvania. The proposed legislation could put patients in jeopardy by undermining the ability of a state medical board to properly assess the standard of care and take appropriate action as necessary.

The fundamental role of medical regulation has been delegated to the states and confirmed by the Supreme Court. States carry out this responsibility by creating medical boards comprised of appointed physicians and public members that have the requisite medical expertise and oversight authority needed to carry out their regulatory responsibilities.

These public officials are charged with overseeing the practice of medicine, including administering licensing processes, investigative and adjudicatory processes as well as providing guidance for licensees on best practices or specific medical activities. Boards are tasked to receive, evaluate, and act upon complaints regarding the quality of care and the professional conduct of their licensees. The ultimate goal is to foster the professional practice of medicine and protect the public from improper and substandard care.

Restricting a state medical board’s authority to assess the quality of patient care – as this bill would – limits recourse for patients that have suffered harm.

The FSMB urges the Committee to recognize that it is vitally important that state medical boards retain full authority to protect the public interest by initiating disciplinary action against medical professionals when necessary and appropriate.

Thank you.

Lisa A. Robin, MLA
Chief Advocacy Officer
Federation of State Medical Boards