Board of Dispensing Opticians
If you wish to review any of the following Public Chapters in their entirety, please visit:
Non-Health Related Legislative Activity of Note
• The legislature addressed legislative and Congressional redistricting.
• The “Truth in Sentencing” Act made mandatory sentences for certain criminal offenses.
• The “Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) Act” reformed the school funding approach.
Highlights and Noteworthy Health-Related Legislation
• The Department had two successful legislative initiatives that became law relating to local county health departments and the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, respectively.
• Healthcare Facilities will move to the Health Services and Development Agency (HSDA)/Health Facility Commission on July 1, 2022
• Healthcare providers can continue to utilize telehealth and receive reimbursement for telehealth services.
• The Board of Pharmacy and the Board of Nursing will now hire and fire the Executive Director of the Board.
• A registry within the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability was created to combat the operation of unlicensed facilities.
Pertinent Public Chapters
*All Public Chapters are Hyperlinked to the Document on the Secretary of State’s Website*
Re: Covid-19 Vaccine Exemptions. This public chapter requires that an employer grant certain exemptions to requirements of proof/receipt of vaccinations if the request for exemption is either (1) supported by signed/date statement by a licensed physician that the staff member has a condition recognized under generally accepted medical standards as a basis for the medical exemption or (2) the staff member attests in writing (including electronic means) that the staff member has a sincerely held religious believe that prevents the staff member from complying the requirement in accordance with guidance from Medicare and Medicaid services. This public chapter creates a civil penalty of $10,000 for violation of this statute. Effective as of March 11, 2022.
Re Autoclave Requirements. This public chapter exempts autoclaves from the clearance requirements of the Board of Boilers Rules if the autoclave sterilizes reusable medical or dental equipment used by an individual licensed under title 68 or 63, is installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, contains a boiler, and is regulated by the FDA. Effective as of March 28, 2022. The Governor did not sign this public chapter.
Re Conditions of Participation. This public chapter removes the requirement that a healthcare provider enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid be subject to conditions of participation to be exempt from the definition of “private business” or “governmental entity” for purposes of the Title 14/Covid-19 state laws.
Effective as of March 31, 2022.
Re Telehealth. This public chapter extends the ability for healthcare providers to receive reimbursement for healthcare services provided during a telehealth encounter. This public chapter also clarifies that a healthcare provider acting within the scope of a valid license is not prohibited from delivering services through telehealth. Lastly, this public chapter adds that the requirement of an in-person encounter between the healthcare services provider, the provider’s practice group, or the healthcare system and patient within sixteen months prior to the interactive visit is tolled for the duration of a state of emergency declared by the Governor provided that healthcare services provider or patient, or both, are located in the geographical area covered by the state of emergency. Effective as of April 1, 2022 and applies to insurance policies or contracts issued, entered into, renewed, or amended on or after that date.
Re Anatomical Gifts. This public chapter prohibits a healthcare provider, a hospital, an ambulatory surgical treatment center, a home care organization or any other entity responsible for matching anatomical gifts or organ donors to potential recipients from, solely on the basis of whether an individual has received or will receive a Covid-19 vaccine, (1) consider an individual ineligible for transplant or receipt of an anatomical gift, (2) deny medical or other services related to transplantation, (3) refuse to refer an individual to a transplant center or specialist, (4) refuse to place an individual on an organ or tissue waiting list, or (5) place an individual at a position on an organ or tissue waiting list lower than the position the person at which the individual would have been placed if not for the individual’s vaccine status.
Effective as of April 8, 2022.
Re UAPA. Clarifies that the ALJ shall decide a procedural questions of law. Allows the director of the administrative procedures division of the secretary of state’s office to issue subpoenas. Allows electronic participation in hearings, by agreement of the parties. The hearing officer may allow electronic testimony if the absence of the witness would otherwise cause of delay of the hearing. Requires that a final orders be issued within 90 days. Allows that a petition for reconsideration be filed within 15 days of the entry of the final order or initial order.
Effective as of April 19, 2022.
Re Public Meetings. Permits boards or agencies of state government to have electronic meetings. If an electronic meeting is being held, requires that members of the public be allowed to view and/or listen to the meeting in real time. There must also be a method of members of the public to participate in the meeting electronically, if they would otherwise be permitted to participate in person. Instructions for participate are to be included in the notice of the meeting. An electronic meeting shall be recorded and that recording must be posted on the website of the organization within 3 days. The governing body shall maintain that electronic record of the meeting for at least 3 years.
Effective on July 1, 2022.
Re UAPA and Judicial Review Standards. Requires that a judge over a contested case not defer to an agency’s interpretation of the statue or rule and shall interpret it de novo. Remaining ambiguity shall be resolved against the agency.
Effective as of April 14, 2022.
Re Title 14. Eliminates the sunset provisions in Title 14 for the definitions section and for the section that prohibits government entities from mandating vaccinations. Deletes a variety of definitions from the Title.
For the deletion of definitions, effective July 1, 2022 at 12:01 AM. For all other purposes, effective as of April 19, 2022.
Re Professional License Requirements. Mandates that a person seeking a professional license have US citizenship or be authorized under federal law to work in the US as verified by the SAVE Program (allows DACA children who are now adults to obtain professional licensure if not otherwise prevented by the license).
Effective July 1, 2022.
Re Covid Vaccinations and Acquired Immunity. Amends Title 14 to mandate that acquired immunity from a previous Covid-19 infection be treated the same as a Covid-19 vaccination by a governmental entity, school, or local education authority. Mandates that private businesses who require vaccinations also include recognition for acquired immunity for Covid-19. Effective as of April 11, 2022—This was not signed by Governor.
Re UAPA and Rules. Makes permanent all rules that were filed with the Secretary of State between January 1, 2021 and in effect upon passage of the act, unless they conflict with legislation passed during this session.
Effective as of May 11, 2022.
Re Covid Visitation Policies and Limitations on Covid Treatment Exemptions. Clarifies that a prescriber can be disciplined for prescribing controlled substances and/or narcotics for treatment of Covid, if appropriate. In addition, creates a patient advocate process that hospitals must follow during times of covid concern. Allows that person to enter a facility if they agree to follow procedures but provides certain exceptions to access to locations within the hospital. Effective as of May 25, 2022.
Re Mandatory Reporting of Fatal Drug Overdoses. Requires that a fatal overdose be reported to law enforcement, including by doctors and nurses.
Effective July 1, 2022.
Re: Extended Liability Protection Against Covid Claims. Extends the liability protection against claims based on Covid exposure until July 1, 2023. Effective as of June 1, 2022.
Re: End-of-Life Visitation at Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities. Requires that nursing homes and assisted living facilities allow for visitation during a disaster, emergency, or public health emergency for Covid-19. Provides an exemption if the visitation would violate federal or state law.
Effective July 1, 2022.
** Please note that these are high-level overviews of each public chapter. Speak with the Board
Attorney for any specific questions or concerns. **
This act extends the board of dispensing opticians to June 30, 2026. The act took effect March 23, 2021.
This act prohibits agencies subject to sunset review from promulgating rules or adopting policies to exempt members solely by virtue of their status as members.
This act took effect March 23, 2021.
This act creates a new definition of “store-and-forward telemedicine services” to include the use of asynchronous computer-based communications between the healthcare provider and the patient for the purpose of diagnoses, consultation, or treatment of a patient at a distant site where there may be no in-person exchange.
This act took effect April 13, 2021.
This act authorizes unlicensed graduates of certain medical training programs to provide telehealth services, provided they maintain the same existing standards for telehealth that licensed providers must meet.
This act took effect April 20, 2021.
This act authorizes records custodians to petition a court for injunctive relief from individuals making frequent public records requests with the intent of disrupting government operations, following a fifth (5th) public records request. A records custodian can only petition a court if they notify the person in writing stating the specific conduct may constitute intent to disrupt government operations, and that the person continues to do so. The individual upon a court enjoinment would not be able to make public requests at the agency for up to one (1) year.
This chapter took effect April 28th, 2021 and will sunset July 1, 2025.
This act requires the attorney general and reporter to not approve an emergency rule if the emergency rule does not meet the statutory criteria for adoption of the rule.
This act took effect July 1, 2021.
This act requires that starting December 1, 2023, state agencies submit a report of their effective rules to the chairs of the government operations committee every eight (8) years. The report is required to include a brief description of the department’s operations that each chapter affects, as well as each rule and its administrative history, which would include the original promulgated date and the dates the rule was last amended, if applicable. Additionally, the report would include a determination of each rule on whether it is adheres to current state or federal law or court rulings, should be amended or repealed, reviewed further, or continue in effect without amendment. Lastly, if there are any intentionally false statements in the report, the government operations committee would have the ability to vote to request the general assembly to remove a rule or suspend the department’s rulemaking authority for any reasonable period of time.
This act took effect July 1, 2021.
This act requires public or private entities or businesses that operate a building open to the general public to post signage regarding public restroom access in certain situations.
Specifically, this applies to entities or businesses that have restroom policies allowing either biological sex to use any public restroom within their building. The act includes requirements for language, size, location, and even color for the signage. The act excludes unisex, single occupant restrooms or family restrooms intended for use by either sex.
This act took effect July 1, 2021.
This act prohibits the Governor from issuing an executive order and a state agency, department or political subdivision from promulgating, adopting, or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that requires a person to receive an immunization, vaccination, or injection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus or any variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It also deletes the previous override during an epidemic or immediate threat of an epidemic of an objection against vaccination that was made on the basis of religious tenets. The law prohibits requiring the COVID-19 vaccine to attend k-12 schools. The prohibition against requiring vaccines does not apply to governmental entities subject to federal or state statute or rule that prohibits the entity from requiring medical treatment for those who object on religious grounds or right of conscience. The law also does not apply to students of a public institution of higher education delivering healthcare services when the student is participating in/fulfilling requirements of a program in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or another healthcare profession.
This act took effect May 25, 2021.
This act limits an agency’s authority to promulgate rules without a public hearing. There are exceptions to the public hearing requirement. These exceptions include emergency rules, rules that are nonsubstantive modifications to existing rules (like clerical updates), rules that repeal existing rule, or rules that eliminate or reduce a fee described by an existing rule.
This act took effect July 1, 2021.
This act authorizes the joint government operations committee to stay an agency’s rule from going into effect for a period of time not to exceed ninety (90) days. If the government operations committee determines that subsequent stays are necessary, then the joint committee may issue consecutive stays, each for an additional ninety (90) day period, so long as such stays do not extend beyond the fifth legislative day of the year following the year in which the rule is filed with the secretary of state. The initial stay may be done by either the house or senate government operations committee, but subsequent stays must be by agreement by the committees of both chambers. A stay is effective when the respective committee files written notice with the secretary of state, and the respective committee shall specify the length of effectiveness of the stay.
This act took effect May 25, 2021.
**These are general summaries of legislation. For more detailed information and all specifics/requirements, please review the
This public chapter deals with telehealth and reimbursement. The majority of the legislation is focused on provisions related to insurance and reimbursement for telehealth services. Section 9 of the public chapter, however, focuses on the definition of telehealth and what health practitioners are authorized to do telehealth.
Section 9 of the bill defines "telehealth," "telemedicine," and "provider-based telemedicine" as the use of real time audio, video, or other electronic media and telecommunication technology that enables interaction between a healthcare provider and a patient for the purpose of diagnosis, consultation, or treatment of a patient at a distant site where there may be no in-person exchange between a healthcare provider and a patient. The definition also includes store-and-forward telemedicine services.
Until April 1, 2022, all licensed providers under title 63 (as well as licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselors under title 68, or any state-contracted crisis service provider that is employed by a facility licensed under title 33) are defined as healthcare providers under the telehealth bill. After April 1, 2022, the definition of a healthcare provider eligible to perform telehealth services will change to an individual acting within the scope of a valid license issued pursuant to title 63 (as well as licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselors under title 68, or any state-contracted crisis service provider that is employed by a facility licensed under title 33). Telehealth is not authorized for use at pain management clinics or for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain. It is also not available for veterinarians.
A patient-provider relationship in regard to telehealth is created by mutual consent and communication. No new standards of care are created, and the provider will be held to the same standard of care as if the case was in person. Finally, the board shall not establish a more restrictive standard of practice for telehealth than what is specifically authorized by the provider's practice act or other applicable statutes.
This act took effect August 20, 2020.
This act was the Department of Health’s Licensure Accountability Act. The bill allows all health related boards to take action against a licensee that has been disciplined by another state for any acts or omissions that would constitute grounds for discipline in Tennessee. The law also expands available emergency actions, allowing actions beyond simply a summary suspension. Finally, the act establishes that the notification of law changes to health practitioners can be satisfied by the online posting of law changes by the respective boards. Notice must be maintained online for at least 2 years following the change.
This act took effect March 20, 2020.
This act prohibits a governmental entity from authorizing destruction of public records if the governmental entity knows the records are subject to a pending public record request. Prior to authorizing destruction of public records an entity must contact the public record request coordinator to ensure the records are not subject to any pending public record requests. Records may still be disposed of in accordance with an established records retention schedule/policy as part of an ordinary course of business as long as the records custodian is without knowledge the records are subject to a pending request.
This act took effect on June 22, 2020.
This act states that an entity responsible for an AED program is immune from civil liability for personal injury caused by maintenance or use of an AED if such conduct does not rise to the level of willful or wanton misconduct or gross negligence.
This act took effect on March 28, 2019.
The majority of this act pertains to boards governed by the Department of Commerce and Insurance. One small section applies to the health related boards. Currently, the health related boards have an expedited licensure process for military members and their spouses. Previously, a spouse of an active military member had to leave active employment to be eligible for this expedited process. This act removes that requirement. This section applies to all health related boards. The Commissioner of Health is permitted to promulgate rules, but rules are not needed to implement the act.
This act takes effect July 1, 2019.
This act allows healthcare professionals to accept goods or services as payment in direct exchange of barter for healthcare services. Bartering is only permissible if the patient to whom services are provided is not covered by health insurance. All barters accepted by a healthcare professional must be submitted to the IRS annually. This act does not apply to healthcare services provided at a pain management clinic.
This act took effect April 30, 2019.
This act mandates that an agency that requires a person applying for a license to engage in an occupation, trade, or profession in this state to take an examination must provide appropriate accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any state agency that administers a required examination for licensure (except for examinations required
by federal law) shall promulgate rules in regard to eligibility criteria. This legislation was introduced to assist individuals with dyslexia.
This act took effect May 2, 2019 for the purpose of promulgating rules, and for all other purposes, takes effect July 1, 2020.
This act permits law enforcement agencies to subpoena materials and documents pertaining to an investigation conducted by the Department of Health prior to formal disciplinary charges being filed against the provider. This bill was brought by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
This act went into effect May 22, 2019.
Public Chapter 611
This law requires an agency holding a public hearing as part of its rulemaking process, to make copies of the rule available in "redline form" to people attending the hearing.
This takes effect July 1, 2018.
Public Chapter 675
This act requires the department of health to accept allegations of opioid abuse or diversion and for the department to publicize a means of reporting allegations.
Any entity that prescribes, dispenses, OR handles opioids is required to provide information to employees about reporting suspected opioid abuse/diversion. That notice is to either be provided individually to the employee in writing and documented by the employer OR by posting a sign in a conspicuous, non-public area of minimum height and width stating: "NOTICE: PLEASE REPORT ANY SUSPECTED ABUSE OR DIVERSION OF OPIOIDS, OR ANY OTHER IMPROPER BEHAVIOR WITH RESPECT TO OPIOIDS, TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH'S COMPLAINT INTAKE LINE: 800-852-2187."
Whistleblower protections are also established. An individual who makes a report in good faith may not be terminated or suffer adverse licensure action solely based on the report. The individual also is immune from any civil liability related to a good faith report.
This act takes effect January 1, 2019.
Public Chapter 744
This statute allows a licensing entity the discretion to not suspend/deny/revoke a license in cases where the licensee has defaulted or become delinquent on student loans IF a medical hardship significantly contributed to the default or delinquency.
This act took effect January 1, 2019.
Public Chapter 745 and Public Chapter 793
These public chapters work together to create and implement the "Fresh Start Act." Licensing authorities are prohibited from denying an application or renewal for a license/certificate/registration due to a prior criminal conviction that does not directly relate to the applicable occupation. Lays out the requirements on the licensing authorities as well as the exceptions to the law (ex: rebuttable presumption regarding A and B level felonies).
These acts take effect July 1, 2018.
Public Chapter 754
This chapter prevents any board, commission, committee, etc. created by statute from promulgating rules, issuing statements, or issuing intra-agency memoranda that infringe on an entity member's freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech includes, but is not limited to, a member's freedom to express an opinion concerning any matter relating to that governmental entity, excluding matters deemed to be confidential under TCA 10-7-504.
Violations as determined by a joint evaluation committee may result in recommendations to the general assembly concerning the entity's sunset status, rulemaking authority and funding.
This act took effect April 18, 2018.
Public Chapter 929
This act redefines policy and rule and requires each agency to submit a list of all policies, with certain exceptions, that have been adopted or changed in the previous year to the chairs of the government operations committees on July 1 of each year. The submission shall include a summary of the policy and the justification for adopting a policy instead of a rule.
This act also prohibits any policy or rule by any agency that infringes upon an agency member's freedom of speech.
Finally, this act establishes that an agency's appointing authority shall have the sole power to remove a member from a board, committee, etc.
This act takes effect July 1, 2018 and applies to policies adopted on or after that date
Public Chapter 954
This legislation requires the initial licensure fee for low-income persons to be waived. Low income individuals per the statute are defined as persons who are enrolled in a state or federal public assistance program including but not limited to TANF, Medicaid, and SNAP. All licensing authorities are required to promulgate rules to effectuate the purposes of this act.
This act takes effect January 1, 2019.
Public Chapter 1021
This act allows for appeals of contested case hearings to be in the chancery court nearest the residence of the person contesting the agency action or at that person's discretion, in the chancery court nearest the place the action arose, or in the chancery court of Davidson County. Petitions seeking review must be filed within 60 days after entry of the agency's final order.
This act takes effect July 1, 2018.
Public Chapter 350
This will allow healthcare providers to satisfy one hour of continuing education requirements through the performance of one hour of voluntary provision of healthcare services. The maximum amount of annual hours of continuing education that a provider can receive through providing volunteer healthcare services is the lesser of 8 hours or 20% of the provider’s annual continuing education requirement. The legislation allows for rulemaking by the division of health related boards in order to administer this section. This took effect on May 12, 2017.
Public Chapter 215
This will require state governmental entities that establish or adopt guides to practice to do so through the promulgation of rules, rather than policy. The rules so promulgated must specify all provisions included in and relating to the guide to practice. Any changes to guides to practice made after the guides are adopted must also be promulgated by rule in order to be effective. For purposes of this part, guides to practice includes codes of ethics and other quality standards, but does not include tests, examinations, building codes, safety codes, or drug standards. This legislation took effect on April 28, 2017.
Public Chapter 240
This legislation was brought by the Department of Health and was designed to address a number of issues throughout all licensing boards, committees, and councils. This legislation will:
Insure the integrity of licensure examinations by making examination questions, answer sheets, scoring keys, and other examination data confidential and closed to public inspection.
Allow the issuance of limited licenses to applicants who have been out of clinical practice or inactive, or who are engaged in administrative practice. Limited licenses may be of restricted scope, restricted duration, and have additional conditions placed upon them in order to obtain full licensure.
Clarify that other documents prepared by or on behalf of the Department with regard to an investigation are confidential until such time as formal disciplinary charges are filed against the provider.
Eliminate the “locality rule” for administrative law.
Require the chief administrative official for each health care facility to report within 60 days any disciplinary action taken against an employee for matters related to ethics, incompetence or negligence, moral turpitude, or substance abuse, to the employee’s respective licensing board. All records pertaining to the disciplinary action shall be made available for examination to the licensing board.
This act became effective on May 2, 2017.
Public Chapter 481
This legislation creates a new violation of a healthcare practitioner’s practice act if that practitioner refuses to submit to or tests positive for any drug the practitioner does not have a lawful prescription for or a valid medical reason for using the drug. It is the duty of the employer to report any violation to the Department of Health. If the practitioner fails a drug test, the practitioner has 3 business days to either produce the requisite prescription or medical reason, or report to their board approved peer assistance program. If the practitioner does not comply with any of these measures, it is the duty of the employer to report this violation of the practice act to the employee’s licensing board for investigation and action. If the practitioner reports to the peer assistance program and obtains and maintains advocacy of the program, the employer is not required to notify the board.
As long as a practitioner obtains, maintains and complies with the terms of a peer assistance program, the board shall not take action on the licensee for the sole reason of a failed or refused drug test. If a practitioner fails to obtain or maintain advocacy from the peer assistance program, the program is required to report that information to the appropriate licensing board. The board SHALL suspend the license of a practitioner who fails to comply with the terms of the program. Employer drug testing must be compliant with the Drug-free Workplace requirements. This legislation allows a quality improvement committee to share information regarding substance abuse by a practitioner with other quality improvement committees. Additionally, this legislation specifies that the Department of Health is not required to obtain prior approval from the Attorney General in order to take any emergency action on a licensee. This legislation took effect on July 1, 2017.
Public Chapter 230
This legislation authorizes commissioners or supervising officials of departments to evaluate certain actions by a regulatory board to determine whether the action may constitute a potentially unreasonable restraint of trade. Supervising officials must ensure that the actions of regulatory boards that displace competition are consistent with a clearly articulated state policy. If a board action constitutes a potentially unreasonable restraint of free trade, the supervising official must conduct a further review of the action and either approve, remand or veto the action. The supervising official may not be licensed by, participate in, or have a financial interest in the occupation, business or trade regulated by the board who is subject to further review, nor be a voting or ex officio member of the board. The supervising official must provide written notice of any vetoed actions to the senate and house government operations committees.
Prior to filing a regulatory board's rule with the secretary of state, the commissioner or chief executive officer of the administrative department under which a regulatory board operates or to which a regulatory board is administratively attached, or a designee to the extent a conflict of interest may exist with respect to the commissioner or chief executive officer, must remand a rule that may constitute a potentially unreasonable restraint of trade to the regulatory board for additional information, further proceedings, or modification, if the rule is not consistent with a clearly articulated state policy or law established by the general assembly with respect to the regulatory board. This act took effect on April 24, 2017.