The Texas Sunset Commission, which originally recommended the de-licensing of respiratory therapists in the state, is now recommending that the licensure of the profession come under the purview of the Texas State Medical Board.
“This is exactly what we hoped for,” said TSRC president, Russell Graham. He and AARC/TSRC member Terry Gilmore were invited to sit on a subcommittee of the Sunset Commission to work out a compromise to the their first recommendation to eliminate licensure for respiratory therapists.
The subcommittee has just released its report making its recommendation to the full Sunset Commission members that the respiratory therapy profession in Texas should:
- Continued to be licensed in Texas
- Be moved under the umbrella of the Texas Board of Medicine
- Have a specific RT advisory committee, the majority of members of which will be licensed respiratory therapists to make recommendations on the practice of respiratory therapy
The Sunset Commission must now accept that report. The last step would be that the above recommendations must be passed as a bill by the Texas legislature when it reconvenes in January 2015. Texas RT licensure was created by the legislature and any significant changes must be made through the legislature. “These are significant changes, and we will be vigilant to make sure the legislature passes the bill,” said Cheryl West, AARC’s Director of Government Affairs.
An overwhelming showing of respiratory therapists in the state capitol and in letter-writing campaigns to their local representatives turned the tide and got the attention of legislators and Sunset Commissioners in June. “We hear you,” said Commission chair and State Senator Jane Nelson. After hearings in Austin with many AARC and TSRC representatives, the Commission constituted a subcommittee to further review possible actions. The August report above is the result of that subcommittee’s work.
Director of Government Affairs Cheryl West attended hearings in Austin back in June, as well as AARC Executive Director Tom Kallstrom and Associate Executive Director Shawna Strickland who testified before the Commission. Dozens of individuals were on hand to speak against the Commission’s recommendation to de-license respiratory therapists based on the danger it posed to patients.
With this latest announcement, AARC President George Gaebler said, “The AARC applauds the unceasing efforts of the Texas Society leadership and the thousands of respiratory therapists in Texas who stood up and clearly made their voices heard: Texas respiratory therapy licensure must continue! That message was heard loud and clear in Austin and in the rest of the country.”
The mission now is to develop an organized plan of action to educate the Texas legislators on the merits of supporting the bill that will make these important changes. Texas RTs will be called on over the next few months to make sure their own legislators know just how important it is not only for the respiratory therapy profession but the pulmonary patients of Texas.