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Indiana Senate Approves Licensure Bill | NEWS-Line for Occupational Therapists & COTAs

Indiana Senate Approves Licensure Bill


The Indiana Senate approved H.B. 1821 49-0 on April 11. Before final passage, the bill was amended to allow psychologists to refer to occupational therapists. Also, language was deleted regarding the requirement of direct supervision of occupational therapy assistants. Amendment language to certify, rather than license, occupational therapy assistants remained in the legislation that ultimately passed the Senate.

Since the bill was amended by the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, it must first go back to the House for final approval. The House is expected to concur with the Senate amendments. From there the bill will go Governor Mitch Daniels for his signature.

On February 23, the Indiana House of Representatives passed licensure legislation for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants by a vote of 88 to three. House Bill 1821, sponsored by State Representative Sheila J. Klinker, upgrades the state's certification law to licensure and makes other updates to state's occupational therapy practice act, including the addition of continuing competence requirements for licensure renewal. Representative Klinker introduced H.B. 1821 on behalf of the Indiana Occupational Therapy Association (IOTA).

Senator Ronnie J. Alting (R) introduced S.B. 554 in the Senate on January 23. IOTA secured a Democratic sponsor for the House bill and a Republican sponsor for the Senate bill.

This bipartisan approach is important because Indiana's state legislature is split between the two parties; Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate.

AOTA supports licensure for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants because it provides guidelines and standards that protect consumers and improve the profession as a whole.

IOTA's Legislative Committee spent several months building support for the licensure bill through meetings and discussions with state associations representing other health professions, healthcare facilities, and consumers. In addition to IOTA's testimony in favor of H.B. 1821, representatives from the Indiana Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association and the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association testified in support of the bill before the House Public Health Committee February 7. The committee approved the bill on February 8 and sent it to the floor for a vote by the full House.

As IOTA Legislative Committee Chair Thomas Fisher, PhD, OTR, CCM, FAOTA, puts it, "One chamber down, one to go."

AOTA's State Affairs Group worked with IOTA to draft the proposed legislation and has provided technical support to the licensure initiative. In October 2006, AOTA staff presented information about licensure and state regulation to members at IOTA's annual meeting.

For more than 25 years, AOTA has worked with state occupational therapy associations to enact practice acts and will continue to work to secure licensure in the remaining states for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.

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