TRENTON – In an effort to provide greater transparency, and to give health care consumers a fuller picture of the professionals from whom they might seek treatment, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Nia Gill that would require the Division of Consumer Affairs to create and maintain profiles with certain information for all healthcare professionals licensed in the State.
The bill would expand the professionals subject to and information reported under the existing New Jersey Health Care Consumer Information Act. While current law applies to physicians, podiatrists and optometrists, this bill would require profiles be prepared for all licensed healthcare professionals in the State.
“This is a solid consumer protection bill that I am proud to sponsor, and that could make a huge difference in the lives of residents who may be facing a huge medical decision of choosing the best path of care, and the right health care professional from whom to seek it,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic / Bergen).
“When it comes to health care, and health care choices, consumers must have access to all the relevant information about the providers they might be considering for treatment,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “Given the wide array of treatment options available to New Jerseyans, we must ensure the required licensure information is expanded to provide transparency across as many areas of treatment as possible.”
The bill, S-760, would expand the information included in professional profiles. To the extent they are available to the division, the following information would be required to be disclosed:
- a description of violations of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act;
- any Medicaid or Medicare exclusions;
- any actions taken against the professional by federal regulators, including but not limited to, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency; and
- any other information as determined by the director pursuant to regulation.
Additionally, the bill would change how criminal convictions and malpractice judgments appear on a professional’s profile. The bill would remove the existing time limits of ten years for criminal convictions and five years for malpractice judgments. The bill would also require criminal convictions appearing on a profile have a direct or substantial relationship to the activity regulated by the board.
“This bill will help to make sure that those physicians who choose to practice in New Jersey are fully qualified, fully- licensed and in good standing,” added Senator Pou. “Medical associations and consumers in New Jersey must have confidence that those physicians who come to practice here have not lost their license previously while practicing in another state.”
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 36-0.