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Board of Dispensing Opticians

Legislative

If you wish to review any of the following Public Chapters in their entirety, please visit:
https://sos.tn.gov/division-publications/acts-and-resolutions.

Public Chapter 4 (second extraordinary session)

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.

Public Chapter 594

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.

 

Public Chapter 738

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.

 

 

Public Chapter 61

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. 

 

Public Chapter 195

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. 

 

Public Chapter 229

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. 

 

Public Chapter 243

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

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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. 

 

Public Chapter 447

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.