The Medical Association Coalition (MAC), of which the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians is a member, submitted comments on proposed changes to the latest draft one-bite rules developed by the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO).
House Bill (HB) 145 was enacted by the Ohio General Assembly to establish a confidential one-bite program that provides clarity as to eligibility for the program, allows for flexibility of individualized treatment plans and monitoring terms, and includes safeguards to ensure public safety. The members of the MAC fully endorsed HB 145 with the understanding that the rules and processes previously agreed upon would be honored once the bill was enacted.
While the MAC understood the existing rules would need to be edited to align with the legislative language, it was surprised to see that significant changes were made to the most recent rules circulated for comment.
The MAC participated in good faith with the SMBO (members and staff) and the Ohio Physicians Health Program (OPHP) to craft agreed upon language and a framework for a one-bite program that allows for individualized treatment plans. These draft rules are too prescriptive, not clinically based, and will ultimately deter physicians and other licenses to seek treatment, possibly placing the public at risk. The changes appear to model current language used in consent agreements for discipline related to impairment cases and do not support an intervention and recovery model. These rules fly in the face of everything the MAC and the Ohio General Assembly was attempting to accomplish with passage of HB 145.
The MAC, in its formal comments to the SMBO, requests that draft rules be amended to honor the previously agreed on principles. The MAC has also requested a meeting, facilitated by HB 145 sponsor Representative Steve Huffman, be called at the earliest possible date to resolve these discrepancies.
The MAC is committed to working with the SMBO to implement an effective and successful one-bite program, but these rules, as currently drafted, do not facilitate achievement of that outcome.