Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/14/1999 03:24 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSSB 29(RLS) - REQUIREMENTS FOR PHYSICIAN'S LICENSE                                                                             
Number 0161                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's first order of business                                                             
is CSSB 29(RLS), "An Act relating to licensure of physicians; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."  He invited Dr. Isto forward.                                                                 
Number 0222                                                                                                                     
SARAH ISTO, MD, Chair, State Medical Board, Division of                                                                         
Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic                                                                     
Development, came forward to testify in support of SB 29.  She                                                                  
stated the board is very eager to see this legislation pass.  She                                                               
referred to her supporting letter previously provided to the                                                                    
committee because of her absence at the Wednesday [May 12] hearing.                                                             
As a brief overview, Dr. Isto explained that these are changes                                                                  
desired by the state medical board and were requested by some of                                                                
Senator Jerry Ward's [the bill sponsor] constituents.  These areas                                                              
were identified as problems by both groups.  This legislation deals                                                             
with the citizenship of applicants for new licenses, and the                                                                    
qualifications for graduates of non-United States or non-Canadian                                                               
accredited medical schools.  These schools are known as either                                                                  
international or foreign medical schools.  Dr. Isto explained the                                                               
two basic changes SB 29 makes.  Section 1  deletes the requirement                                                              
that an applicant [for licensure] be a U.S. citizen; there are many                                                             
well-qualified physicians who are in this country on various visas,                                                             
not always permanent resident visas.  These physicians are seeing                                                               
federal patients in Alaska but are not allowed to see non-federal                                                               
Alaskan patients.  The State Medical Board would like to make the                                                               
services of these physicians available to Alaskan patients.                                                                     
Number 0361                                                                                                                     
DR. ISTO pointed out the second important change is that new                                                                    
physician applicants who have graduated from foreign medical                                                                    
schools would be required to have three postgraduate years of                                                                   
training.  Three years is currently a standard requirement and                                                                  
international medical schools vary widely.  Dr. Isto noted the                                                                  
"London School of Medicine" is wonderful, but some schools in the                                                               
Caribbean operate out of a "store front."  The board is confident                                                               
that foreign medical school graduates who complete three years of                                                               
U.S. postgraduate training will have received good training and                                                                 
will have been monitored.  However, if these foreign graduates                                                                  
enter a three-year program and quit after one year, the board is                                                                
very nervous about their qualifications because they have quit or                                                               
may have been dismissed.  Dr. Isto indicated that it is unusual for                                                             
the board to receive applications from people with only one year of                                                             
postgraduate training.  The State Medical Board would like Alaska                                                               
to join the 43 other states that require three years because                                                                    
currently Alaska attracts people who did not complete their three                                                               
years, since it is one of seven states which allow that [from Dr.                                                               
Isto's previously mentioned letter:  "Alaska and the six other                                                                  
states which require only one year are currently at risk for                                                                    
attracting inadequately trained students who quit or were dismissed                                                             
at the end of their first post-graduate year."].  Dr. Isto informed                                                             
the committee that the other parts of SB 29 are simply items                                                                    
necessary to make that work.  She indicated permits which can be                                                                
renewed to last for three years would be needed for a foreign                                                                   
medical school graduate doing the "Alaska family practice                                                                       
residency" before that person can be licensed.  If a person is an                                                               
osteopath, he/she would also have to meet these requirements.  Dr.                                                              
Isto commented she was trying to keep her explanation brief because                                                             
she thinks the committee is probably familiar with this; she asked                                                              
if there are any questions.                                                                                                     
Number 0485                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG confirmed there were no questions for Dr. Isto or                                                             
further witnesses on SB 29.  There being none, he stated the public                                                             
hearing was closed.                                                                                                             
Number 0520                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO made a motion to move CSSB 29(RLS) out of                                                                 
committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero                                                                 
fiscal note.  There being no objection, CSSB 29(RLS) moved out of                                                               
the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                

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