Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

03/08/2005 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
      HB 102 AM-MEDICAL LICENSE: APPLICATION/FOREIGN GRAD                                                                   
CHAIR CON  BUNDE announced  that the first  order of  business to                                                               
come before the committee was HB 102 AM.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZ,  sponsor of HB 102 AM,  said there is                                                               
a chronic  shortage of  physicians in Alaska.  An option  to ease                                                               
the shortage is to provide  the State Medical Board discretion in                                                               
defining the  training and qualifications required  for licensure                                                               
of foreign medical school graduates.                                                                                            
1:40:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELLIS arrived.                                                                                                          
RICK  URION,   Director,  Division  of   Occupational  Licensing,                                                               
supported  HB   102  AM.  Licensing   laws  have   absolutely  no                                                               
discretion. The bill  would not open up the  medical community to                                                               
people who are not qualified.                                                                                                   
1:43:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE asked  him to brief the committee  on the application                                                               
process for a foreign medical student.                                                                                          
MR. URION replied:                                                                                                              
     Therein  lies the  problem.  There's  a requirement  in                                                                    
     there  for  a  two-year  specialty  residency  that,  I                                                                    
     think,  they have  a  hard time  ever,  ever coming  to                                                                    
     meet.  You'll hear  testimony from  those of  some very                                                                    
     qualified people  that we have  not been able  to bring                                                                    
     to Alaska  because they couldn't  meet this  criteria -                                                                    
     but they  are well-qualified  to practice  medicine and                                                                    
     would be a credit to the community.                                                                                        
1:44:40 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM   JORDAN,   Executive    Director,   Alaska   State   Medical                                                               
Association, strongly  supported this  bill. It allows  the board                                                               
to adopt  by regulation alternative  measures of  competency. "We                                                               
feel it is absolutely required."                                                                                                
The United  States and the  State of  Alaska are facing  an acute                                                               
shortage of doctors. By the year  2020, there is expected to be a                                                               
shortage of 90,000 to 200,000 physicians in this country.                                                                       
A positive unintended consequence is  that there are about eighty                                                               
languages spoken  in Anchorage  and there is  a great  concern in                                                               
medical circles  of providing culturally  competent care.  By the                                                               
ability to attract and have  licensed very qualified graduates of                                                               
foreign medical  schools could provide  an element  of culturally                                                               
competent care  in Alaska. It  would also provide  an educational                                                               
opportunity for  those physicians  to share their  knowledge with                                                               
the other practicing physicians in the state.                                                                                   
DR.  GEORGE STEWART,  Anchorage  physician  specializing in  lung                                                               
disease and critical  care medicine, said he  has practiced since                                                               
1971.  He  reiterated that  there  are  severe shortages  in  the                                                               
specialty  medicine, like  diabetes, neurology  and rheumatology.                                                               
It will  get worse  as the  population grows  and gets  older. He                                                               
related  a  personal  story  of  how  a  foreign  medical  person                                                               
couldn't get  licensed in  Alaska and  other examples  of foreign                                                               
doctors  not getting  licensure. He  said  the intent  is not  to                                                               
lower  the  standard  for  physician   licensure,  but  to  bring                                                               
physicians who speak different languages  to the profession as an                                                               
asset. He emphasized that they are well-qualified people.                                                                       
CHAIR BUNDE  thanked everyone for  their comments and set  HB 102                                                               
AM aside until next week.                                                                                                       

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