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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 97-982



[49 PA. CODE CH. 25]

Volunteer License

[27 Pa.B. 2957]

   The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine (Board) proposes to amend Chapter 25, by adding Subchapter L (relating to volunteer license) to read as set forth in Annex A.

A.  Effective Date

   The proposed regulations will be effective upon publication of the final-form regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

B.  Statutory Authority

   The Board is required to promulgate regulations governing the volunteer license category under section 5 of the Volunteer Health Services Act (act) (35 P. S. § 449.5) which became effective February 3, 1997. Section 5 of the act mandates regulations governing: (1) qualifications for placing an active license on volunteer status; (2) criteria under which a retired licensee who has allowed a license to become inactive may obtain a volunteer license; and (3) procedures under which a volunteer license holder may return to active status. The Board is authorized to adopt regulations necessary to the administration of its enabling statute under section 16 of the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act (63 P. S. § 271.16).

C.  Background and Purpose

   The purpose of the proposal is to implement the act. The act is intended to increase the availability of primary health services by establishing a procedure for physicians and other health care practitioners who have retired from active practice to provide professional services as volunteers in approved clinics. Primary health services are defined in the act as including services such as regular checkups, immunizations, school physicals, health education, prenatal and obstetrical care, early periodic screening and diagnostic testing, and health education.

   An approved clinic is defined in the act as an organized community-based clinic which offers services to: (1) individuals and families who cannot pay for their care; (2) Medical Assistance clients; or (3) residents of medically underserved or health professionals shortage areas. Examples of these clinics include Federal or State qualified and approved health centers or nonprofit community based clinics.

   The act permits persons who have been issued a license by the State Board of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Dentistry, Podiatry, Nursing, Optometry and Chiropractic to practice a component of the healing arts to apply for volunteer status. A volunteer license will be issued to a retired individual who documents to the satisfaction of the Board that the individual will practice without remuneration in approved clinics.

   The act exempts holders of a volunteer license from biennial renewal fees and professional liability coverage mandated by the Health Care Services Malpractice Act (40 P. S. § 1301.701). However, volunteer licenses will be subject to biennial renewal conditioned upon completion of any continuing education which the Board requires for biennial renewal generally.

D.  Description of the Proposed Regulations

   The volunteer license category would be added in § 25.601 (relating to purpose and scope). Section 25.601 would provide the statutory references to the act, as well as the statutory basis for the volunteer license category. The Board has interpreted the act as permitting a volunteer license holder to practice exclusively in an organized community-based clinic without remuneration.

   Under section 3 of the act (35 P. S. § 449.43), an active licensee must possess a current, active, unrestricted license to qualify for a volunteer license. Section 4 of the act (35 P. S. § 449.44) permits a licensee to apply who retired with a license in good standing. The Board has interpreted this qualification to mean a license which at the time of the application is not subject to an outstanding disciplinary action such as revocation or suspension. Accordingly, the Board uses the term unrestricted license as a qualification for the issuance of a volunteer license in subsection (d). The criteria for obtaining a volunteer license are set forth in § 25.602. Both active licensees and retired licensees with inactive licenses may receive a volunteer license in order to practice as a volunteer without remuneration in an approved clinic. The act's definition of an ''approved'' clinic is included in subsection (c).

   Procedures to apply for a volunteer license are set forth in proposed § 25.603 (relating to applications). Applicants would be requested to provide basic license information. In addition, the applicant would be requested to execute a verification that the applicant intends to practice exclusively within the scope of a volunteer license. Also, in order to provide proper enforcement of the limitation of the act, applicants will be required to file with the Board a letter of agreement from the clinic that the applicant will work in the clinic. Section 25.604 (relating to validity of license) would make this notification a continuing obligation during the biennial period of the license.

   Biennial renewal of the volunteer license would be provided for under § 25.605 (relating to biennial renewal). Subsections (a) and (b) would cross reference § 25.271 (relating to requirements for renewal) pertaining to continuing education requirements which must be met and § 25.231 (relating to schedule of fees) pertaining to the renewal fee from which a volunteer license is exempt under the act.

   Section 25.606 (relating to return to active practice act) provides for return to active, remunerative practice by a volunteer by applying to the Board and meeting the general reactivation requirements.

   Section 25.607 (relating to disciplinary provisions) notifies the volunteer license holder that he continues to be subject to the disciplinary provisions of the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act (63 P. S. §§ 271.1--271.18). In addition, § 25.607 proposes that a violation of the act or the regulations adopted thereunder may constitute independent grounds for discipline.

E.  Compliance with Executive Order 1996-1

   In accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 1996-1, in drafting and promulgating the proposed regulations the Board solicited input and suggestions from the regulated community by providing drafts to organizations and entities which represent the professionals and to nonprofit organizations who represent qualified providers of volunteer services.

F.  Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

   1.  Commonwealth--The proposed regulations will create a new license for which no fee will be charged. As such, the expenses of the program will be borne as a part of the Board's overall operating expenses which are financed through biennial renewals of active licensees. Therefore, the administration and enforcement of a new license category may have a fiscal impact on overall Board costs. The net effect, however, is estimated to be minimal owing to the relatively small number of licensee population who will seek a volunteer license compared with the number of active licensees. Additional paperwork will be incurred by the Board and the private sector to generate and file application forms.

   2.  Political subdivisions--There will be no adverse fiscal impact or paperwork requirements imposed.

   3.  Private sector--The proposed regulations will have a positive fiscal impact on individual licensees who restrict their professional activities to volunteer work since these individuals are exempt from maintaining professional liability insurance required under the Health Care Services Malpractice Act (40 P. S. §§ 1301.101--1301.1006) and the biennial renewal fee for licensure. The proposed regulations should impose no additional fiscal or paperwork requirements.

G.  Sunset Date

   The Board continuously monitors its regulations. Therefore, no sunset date has been assigned.

H.  Regulatory Review

   Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on June 6, 1997, the Board submitted a copy of these proposed regulations to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and the Chairpersons of the House Professional Licensure Committee and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. In addition to submitting the proposed regulations, the Board has provided IRRC and the Committees with a copy of a detailed Regulatory Analysis Form prepared by the Board in compliance with Executive Order 1996-1, ''Regulatory Review and Promulgation.'' A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.

   If IRRC has objections to any portion of the proposed regulation, it will notify the Board within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. The notification shall specify the regulatory review criteria which have not been met by that portion. The Regulatory Review Act specifies detailed procedures for review, prior to final publication of the regulations, by the Board, the General Assembly and the Governor of objections raised.

I.  Public Comment

   Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, suggestions or objections regarding the proposed regulations to Herbert Abramson, Board Counsel, State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, P. O. Box 2649, 116 Pine Street, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649, within 30 days of publication of this proposed rulemaking. Please reference No. 16A-537 (Volunteer License), when submitting comments.


   Fiscal Note: 16A-537. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A







25.601.Purpose and scope.
25.602.Volunteer license.
25.604.Validity of license.
25.605.Biennial renewal.
25.606.Return to active practice.
25.607.Disciplinary provisions.

§ 25.601.  Purpose and scope.

   This subchapter implements the Volunteer Health Services Act (35 P. S. §§ 449.41--449.50) and provides for the issuance of a volunteer license to a qualified Board-regulated practitioner as defined in section 2 of the act (63 P. S. § 271.2), who retires from active practice and seeks to provide professional services as a volunteer. A volunteer license authorizes the holder to practice only in an organized community-based clinic and without remuneration.

§ 25.602.  Volunteer license.

   A volunteer license may be issued to a Board-regulated practitioner who meets one of the following conditions:

   (1)  Holds a currently renewed, active, unrestricted license, registration or certificate in this Commonwealth and retires from active practice at the time the applicant applies for a volunteer license.

   (2)  Retires from the active practice in this Commonwealth in possession of an unrestricted license which was allowed to lapse by not renewing it. A retired licensee, registrant or certificateholder shall meet any requirements of the act or the regulations pertaining to continued education or continued competency to be eligible for renewal. As used in this section, an ''unrestricted license, certification or registration'' is a license which is not restricted or limited by order of the Board under its disciplinary power.

   (3)  Documents to the satisfaction of the Board that the applicant will practice without personal remuneration in approved clinics. As used in this section, an ''approved clinic'' is an organized community-based clinic offering primary health care services to individuals and families who cannot pay for their care, to Medical Assistance clients, or to residents of medically underserved areas or health professionals shortage areas. The term may include a State health center, nonprofit community-based clinic and Federally qualified health center, as designated by Federal rulemaking or as approved by the Department of Health or the Department of Public Welfare.

§ 25.603.  Applications.

   An applicant for a volunteer license shall complete an application obtained from the Board. In addition to providing information requested by the Board, the applicant shall provide:

   (1)  An executed verification on forms provided by the Board certifying that the applicant intends to practice exclusively:

   (i)  Without personal remuneration for professional services.

   (ii)  In an organized community-based clinic offering primary health care services to one or more of the following:

   (A)  Individuals and families who cannot pay for their care

   (B)  Medical assistance clients

   (C)  Residents of medically underserved areas or health professional shortage areas.

   (2)  A letter signed by the director or chief operating officer of the community-based clinic that the applicant has been authorized to provide volunteer services in the named clinic by the governing body or responsible officer of the clinic.

§ 25.604.  Validity of license.

   A volunteer license shall be valid for the biennial period for which it is issued, subject to biennial renewal. During each biennial renewal period, the volunteer license holder shall notify the Board of any change in clinic or volunteer status within 30 days of the date of a change, or at the time of renewal, whichever occurs first.

§ 25.605.  Biennial renewal.

   A volunteer license shall be renewed biennially on forms provided by the Board.

   (1)  As a condition of biennial renewal, the applicant shall satisfy the same continuing education requirements as the holder of an active, unrestricted license under § 25.271 (relating to requirements for renewal).

   (2)  The applicant shall be exempt from § 25.231 (relating to schedule of fees) pertaining to the biennial renewal fee and shall be exempt from § 25.283 (relating to biennial renewal of license) with regard to the maintenance of liability insurance coverage under section 701 of the Health Care Services Malpractice Act (40 P. S. § 1301-701).

§ 25.606.  Return to active practice.

   A volunteer license holder who desires to return to active practice shall notify the Board and apply for biennial registration on forms provided by the Board.

§ 25.607.  Disciplinary provisions.

   A volunteer license holder shall be subject to the disciplinary provisions of the act and this chapter. Failure of the licensee to comply with the Volunteer Health Services Act (35 P. S. §§ 449.41--449.50) or this subchapter may also constitute grounds for disciplinary action.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 97-982. Filed for public inspection June 20, 1997, 9:00 a.m.]

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