The Medical Association Coalition met on February 1 to begin preparing for the rules writing process for recently passed House Bill 145, which requires the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) to establish a confidential program known as “One-Bite” for the treatment of impaired practitioners. Executive Vice President Ann Spicer represents the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians on the coalition.
Since the bill passed with an emergency clause, provisions will take effect just as soon as Governor Kasich signs the bill into law thus the rules writing process with the SMBO will begin immediately.
The measure allows a practitioner who has not previously participated in One-Bite or been sanctioned by the SMBO for impairment as a result of drugs, alcohol, or other substances to avoid discipline, if specified conditions are met, including completing treatment. The bill also requires the SMBO to contract with one organization to conduct the One-Bite program and perform monitoring services related to the program. It is expected that the organization selected will be the Ohio Physicians Health Program (OPHP). For more than four decades, the OPHP has been confidentially helping impaired physicians regain the health and well-being needed to serve their patients.
This legislation is the result of months of discussion spanning several General Assemblies. At multiple points in the process it looked as through the SMBO would bring any program in-house. The OAFP feared that such a move would discourage self-reporting and physicians seeking needed treatment at the earliest possible time because of their fear of disciplinary action by the SMBO. Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton and former State Representative Cheryl Grossman were key advisors on the effort as well.