SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, State Medical Board, October 3, 2006.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes (sunset legislation), we have reviewed the activities of the State Medical Board (board). As required by state law, the legislative committees of reference shall consider this report during the legislative oversight process to determine whether the board should be reestablished. Currently, AS 08.03.010 (c)(12) states that the board will terminate on June 30, 2007, and will have one year from that date to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In our opinion, the termination date for the State Medical Board should be extended. The regulation and licensing of qualified physicians and other health care professionals is essential to protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare. State health care consumers rely on the diligence of the board and staff to promote the provision of quality health care.

The board serves this public interest by establishing minimum educational and work experience requirements that individuals must meet to become licensed physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists, paramedics and physician assistants. The board further serves this public interest by investigating complaints against licensed professionals and taking disciplinary licensing action when appropriate. The board has satisfactorily carried out its responsibilities in a manner consistent with statutes, good administrative practice, and the public interest.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(12) requires that the State Medical Board be terminated on June 30, 2007. Under AS 08.03.020, the board has a one-year period to administratively conclude its affairs. We recommend that the legislature extend the board’s termination date until June 30, 2013.

Findings and Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1

The board should update regulatory language to reflect current license-by-examination practices

Current license by examination practices are not in accordance with regulatory language. Regulation 12 AAC 40.020(a) reads “[T]he written examination is administered twice yearly in Alaska … .” However, candidates may sit for the computerized examination up to three times within a 12-month period. The State Medical Board has contracted with the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) to administer the computerized examination. Candidates schedule testing directly with FSMB and may test at any time throughout the year at an approved testing center.

Due to other pressing matters, updating the regulatory language has not been a priority of the board. Outdated regulatory language is misleading to readers seeking information regarding licensing procedures in the State of Alaska. As such, 12 AAC 40.020(a) should be updated to reflect current examination practices.