Advocacy Update

May 9, 2016

Article in AAD Member to Member Newsletter

Georgia sets requirements for physicians' use of 'board-certified'

In April, the state of Georgia passed legislation that set forth requirements that must be met in order for a physician to use the term “board-certified.” This move follows a Truth in Advertising law, passed in 2015, that requires health care practitioners to disclose professional information in advertisements and clinical identification and to wear an identifier that includes their name and the types of license or educational degree they hold during all patient encounters. Member to Member recently discussed recent action with AAD member Alex Gross, MD, who led the campaign to pass the legislation.

MTM: How did you get involved in the effort to improve transparency of physician qualifications?

Dr. Gross: During the past several years we’ve had a number of cases where patients were injured or died due to cosmetic procedures. We want to be sure that physicians are not misrepresenting their credentials. Patients see the term “board certified” and assume that their doctor is an expert and has done all the things required to earn that title. Unfortunately doctors can receive certain certifications through online courses without doing a formal residency, and don’t have the competency or expertise to perform certain cosmetic procedures.

In 2015, a similar bill was introduced to the Georgia State Legislature by the state plastic surgical society, but it didn’t have the backing of other specialty societies, so it got shot down pretty quickly. This year, the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery worked with a large coalition of state and national societies, including the AAD, ASDS, and the ASPS, to introduce language that had already been vetted for the bill.

Before we presented it to the state legislature, we made sure we had a consensus in the House of Medicine. We presented the language to the Medical Association of Georgia House of Delegates, which approved it with a very strong majority. The language in the Bill was also approved by the Georgia Composite Medical Board. With the help of our lobbyist Don Bolia, we approached Rep. Betty Price and asked her to introduce the bill to the state House of Representatives and Sen. Judson Hill to sponsor it in the Senate.

I testified before the both the Senate and House Health and Human Services Committees. And the bill was passed by the full legislature in March and signed into law by the Governor in April.

MTM: Similar legislation is being considered in many other states. What advice would you give to AAD members interested in getting involved in working on actions in their states?

Dr. Gross: Our state dermatology society has been very successful in getting legislation passed in Georgia. In 2009, we lobbied for the Cosmetic Laser Services Act, which is working very well, and we passed a tanning bed law in 2010.

The key to our success has been to have a solid strategy before beginning a campaign. Get support from your state medical society and your state medical board. Build relationships with legislators and participate in grassroots advocacy: make phone calls and write letters.

Also, reach out to the AAD for support. The Academy was instrumental in the campaign to pass this legislation. The AAD sent a letter in support of the legislation to the Health and Human Services Committees and were involved in drafting the language of the bill. The Academy issued a call to action, encouraging Georgia dermatologists to write their legislators in support of the bill.

Dr. Gross has a private practice in Cumming, Georgia. He serves on the Georgia Medical Board and is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Emory University.

JANUARY 25, 2010

House Bill 853
By: Representatives Drenner of the 86th, Benfield of the 85th, and Henson of the 87th

To amend Chapter 38 of Title 31 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to tanning facilities, so as to provide a short title; to define certain terms; to provide for registration of tanning facilities; to provide for inspections; to provide for revocation, suspension, and renewal of certificates of registration; to provide for administrative, civil, and criminal penalties; to provide for the adoption of rules; to provide for consumer warnings; to provide for reports on complaints of injury; to provide for parental consent for minors' use of tanning facilities; to provide for variances; to provide for related matters; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

DECEMBER 23, 2009

From Alex Gross, MD | GSD Advocacy Committee Chair

Despite overwhelming support from the state House and Senate, the Laser Bill that was passed during the 2009 legislative session remains unfunded. In a greater effort to trim the state budget, the line item for funds to administrate the granting of laser licenses was "red lined" from the Medical Board's 2010 budget proposal. We are currently working with Rep. Ben Harbin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, to secure funding for bill. The Medical Board is eager to begin granting laser licenses to those who qualify under the law, and to have a mechanism to police laser practitioners. If you are interested in serving on the GSD Legislative Committee, please contact Dr. Alex Gross.