Bill that would add seat to health licensing board advances

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A bill to add a new governor-appointed seat to the state’s Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities will move to the House health committee for discussion.

Rep. Dawn White is proposing to add a member seat dedicated to an ambulatory surgery center representative, bringing the number of board members to 19. The board is a division of the Tennessee Department of Health and licenses or certifies 21 types of health care facilities, including nursing homes, hospitals and laboratories; completes certification for participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs; and investigates reports of patient abuse.

Ambulatory surgery centers do same-day surgeries, such as diagnostic or preventative procedures. Many surgeries that don’t require hospitalization are being moved to ambulatory surgery facilities as a way to cut costs.

House bill HB1470 passed a subcommittee vote Tuesday. Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, is the sponsor of the Senate bill, SB1468.

Existing board seats represent a variety of health care fields ranging from consumers and architecture to pharmacy and medical providers. There is not one dedicated to ambulatory surgery facilities despite there being more than 180 across the state. Board members are appointed by the governor and serve four-year terms.

“Despite their widespread presence, this group does not currently have a representative on the board,” said White, R-Murfreesboro. “I am carrying this bill because it is only fair to ensure that these centers also have a voice on the board that is charged with their licensing and regulation.”

The board came under scrutiny last fall in an audit from the Tennessee comptroller forbeing behind in investigating reports of patient abuse in hospitals and nursing homes.

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