Bill Introduced to Help Impaired Physicians Get Treatment

(March 24, 2017) State Reps. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) have introduced HB 145 to update the confidential Medical Board process known as “one-bite” that allows for early intervention and referral of impaired physicians to treatment providers without reporting them first to the Board.

The OOA and other physician associations have been meeting with Medical Board members and staff for more than a year to revise the law to clarify eligibility and maintain a confidential process that also protects patients. OOA was involved in writing the original law in the 1980s at a time when addiction was just being classified as a disease.

HB 145 amends the Ohio Revised Code to cover all licensees under the jurisdiction of the Medical Board and will now require confidential reporting of impairment concerns by all peers, treatment centers, and the Medical Board to a “monitoring organization” to conduct a confidential program instead of reporting them to the Medical Board. It also clarifies requirements for treatment facilities approved by the Medical Board to be used by the monitoring agency.

HB 145 enacts three new sections to (1) establish criteria for a monitoring organization, (2) determine confidential program eligibility criteria, and (3) provide immunity for the monitoring organization. A "monitoring organization" must be: 

  • Established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization;
  • Sponsored by one or more professional medical associations or medical societies;
  • Contract or employ a physician medical director licensed in the state of Ohio; and
  • Contract or hire clinical staff to support the administration of the program.

The Ohio State Medical Association and OOA were founding members of the Ohio Physicians Health Program (OPHP) in the 1970's, which serves as an advocate for physicians in recovery. OPHP specializes in providing assistance to healthcare professionals voluntarily seeking treatment and who quality for confidential participation under the Medical Board's One-Bite Rule.

For more than a year, OPHP Medical Director David D. Goldberg, DO and Executive Director Kelley M. Long have been leading discussions between the physician associations and the medical board, which resulted in consensus legislation supported by the Board and the medical community.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton, a mental health advocate, served as a facilitator to bring the physician community and medical board together in discussions. Former State Representative Cheryl Grossman kept everyone at the table to find consensus and agreement. Ohio ACOFP Past President Melinda Ford, DO, of Athens,  Medical Board Member Anita M. Steinbergh, DO, and OOA Executive Director Jon Wills were also involved in discussions.