SUNSET BILL

The Sunset Bill, Senate Bill 419, was signed by the Governor on June 6, 2005 and became effective starting September 1, 2005. The enrolled (final) version of the bill may be found on www.capitol.state.tx.us.
Rulemaking Authority
The Acupuncture Board continues to have rulemaking authority that is subject to the Medical Board’s approval.

The Acupuncture Board will develop guidelines for seeking input on proposed rules, from individuals and groups who have an interest, early in the rulemaking process. However, an adopted rule may not be challenged on the grounds that the Acupuncture Board did not comply with this section.

The Acupuncture Board is required to develop “negotiated rulemaking procedures”: The Board, after receiving input on a proposed rule from interested individuals and groups, will appoint a negotiated rulemaking committee. This committee will include individuals to represent the interests of people who are likely to be affected by the proposed rule. The facilitator may be an agency employee or a private individual. The committee will meet, and after discussing and negotiating the proposed rule, it will send a report to the Board identifying the text of the proposed rule and any issues that remain unresolved. Alternative dispute resolution procedures will be used to resolve internal and external disputes.

Use of Technology
The Acupuncture Board is required to use technology to improve its functioning. In particular, by January 1, 2006, the Board is required to ensure that the public is able to interact with them on the Internet.

Licensing Process
The Acupuncture Board may authorize medical board employees to issue licenses to those applicants who clearly meet all licensing requirements, without requiring formal acupuncture board or medical board approval. Those applicants who do not clearly meet all licensing requirements are subject to acupuncture board approval.

Beginning September 1, 2006, new applicants will be required to pass a jurisprudence exam, to include laws, rules, and regulations on the professional practice of acupuncture in Texas.

Acupuncture Schools
Acupuncture schools must now be subject to the approval of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unless they qualify for an exemption. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, in reviewing acupuncture schools, is required to seek input from the
acupuncture board regarding the standards needed to prepare acupuncturists.

Continuing Acupuncture Education Courses
The Acupuncture Board will specify the qualifications for a preferred provider of continuing education and the course content requirements. Once guidelines have been established, the medical board employees will have the authority to approve course
applications for courses that clearly meet the guidelines. Courses that are not clearly within the guidelines will be referred to the Acupuncture Board for review and approval.

Enforcement
The Acupuncture Board’s authority has been strengthened; certain enforcement procedures may be accomplished by the Acupuncture Board without the Medical Board’s approval. The Acupuncture Board will develop guidelines to evaluate licensees’ or applicants’
mental and physical health, use of alcohol and drugs, and professional behavior problems.
The Board will use the most appropriate medical specialist to evaluate the individual. However, such medical specialist’s report may not remove the Acupuncture Board’s power to make a licensing decision.

A new section on Informal Proceedings was added, authorizing the Acupuncture Board, rather than the Medical Board, to handle these proceedings.

When the Acupuncture Board receives a complaint, it may do a 30-day initial investigation to evaluate whether to officially proceed on the complaint.

If a rehabilitation order requires a license holder to participate in activities or programs of a local or statewide private acupuncture association, the acupuncture board will inform the association of the license holder’s duties under the order. The association is required
to comply with any requirements to assist in the acupuncturist’s rehabilitation.

HMO and PPO Law
House Bill 2371 was signed into law and took effect on September 1, 2005. It modifies the Texas Insurance Code.
Subchapter I, Chapter 843, is amended by adding Section 843.3041.

“A health maintenance organization that includes acupuncture in the services covered by the organization’s health care plan may not refuse to provide reimbursement for the performance of a covered acupuncture service solely because the service is
performed by an acupuncturist”

“This section does not require a health maintenance organization to offer acupuncture as a covered service.”

Subchapter B, Chapter 1301, Insurance Code, is amended by adding Section 1301.0515.
“An insurer offering a preferred provider benefit plan that includes acupuncture in the services covered by the plan may not refuse to provide reimbursement for the performance of a covered acupuncture service solely because the service is provided by
an acupuncturist.

“This section does not require an insurer to offer acupuncture as a covered service.”

This law applies to insurance policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2006.

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