By Yvonne Walston, DOM and Elene Gusch, DOM
Good News: Our Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wasted no time signing HB 201, Extend Certain Board Sunset Dates, into law on March 16, 2023, near the end of the 60-day legislative session.
We had been bracing for a sunset in 2024. Instead, our sunset was repealed completely, along with sunsets of the practice acts of other health professions. Other licensed professions, such as architects and accountants, had their sunsets extended to 2029.
The Legislative Finance Committee Sunset Subcommittee had been working on these issues before the session. They recommended unanimously that the boards of these medical professions should not sunset.
The head of our lobbying team, former Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero, made sure DOMs were included in this bill.
Acupuncturists have been licensed in NM for 42 years as of this legislative session, and we can finally all breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer have to worry about renewing our scope of practice every four years. Why does this matter? If our practice act were allowed to sunset, the legislature would have to pass a new bill in order for the BAOM to continue to exist and for our profession to continue as a licensed entity in the state. That could involve legislators or others making changes that we do not want.
The fiscal analysis of HB 201 states: “When the sunsets of boards are eliminated, RLD [Regulation and Licensing Department] is no longer required by statute to perform periodic reviews of the boards; the boards will be fully responsible for updating statutes and streamlining their processes on an as-needed basis.” That means that the BAOM, and DOMs, stay in charge.
Our sunset date has been extended multiple times in recent years, but it has still hung over our heads. Apparently it’s been a big deal to people outside our state, too. Our NMSAAM board member Dr. Robert Bibeau has talked with some who considered practicing here but went to Florida because that state doesn’t have a sunset provision.
We expect parties to pop up all over the state as we celebrate! Stay tuned to hear of at least some of them. As of this writing, we are planning to have a get-together at Chello Grill in Albuquerque on April 19.
Positive progress also occurred on the bill for tax credits for rural practitioners and lowering insurance copays for acupuncture, but it is an ongoing process that requires long-term conversations with decision makers. NMSAAM VP Yvette Arellano laid some good groundwork for DOMs last November when she gave a presentation at an interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee meeting, and that led to new connections with legislators. Other board members have also been in contact with legislators. These legislative “asks” require persistence, relationship building, strategic planning, finding sponsors for bills, and the continuing work of our lobbyist group. Now is an excellent time to join NMSAAM, so that your dues will help support our lobbyists and the entire profession in New Mexico.