Public Policy & Advocacy Update – Iowa Legislative Session wrap-up, June 2020 A very important aspect of being a practicing registered dietitian/registered dietitian nutritionist (RD/RDN) in the state of Iowa is the issue of licensure. It protects the public by ensuring qualified individuals are providing services within our scope of practice that are certified to do so by attaining a Dietetics degree, completing the Dietetics internship, and passing the national exam. In addition, licensure ensures some medical nutrition therapy services will be covered by health insurance.
In February, our licensure was targeted for elimination by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a well-funded lobbyist group whose goal is to nationally reduce government red-tape and barriers to employment. A small group of five RDs [I will come back to this point at the end of this article] attended a sub-committee meeting to voice our concerns and oppose the licensure elimination. Unfortunately, the de-licensure efforts moved forward. In early March, the Iowa Academy hired the lobbyist firm of Fitzgerald, Smith, & Associates (FSA) to represent us on licensure. Working [very quickly!] together, we were able to [temporarily] stop the AFP de-licensure efforts. Then COVID-19 struck and everything came to a halt. As society was learning a new ‘normal’ of social distancing, masks, and staying home, the death of George Floyd sparked a resurgence of awareness on state-sanctioned violence and racism.
Your Public Policy Team (both the out-going members as of May 31st , and the incoming ones as of June 1), plus several members of the Board and Council remained in contact with Jeff, Maggie, and Matt of Fitzgerald, Smith, & Associates throughout the quarantine period, as we waited for the Iowa Legislative Session to reconvene on June 3rd . Initially it appeared the focus would be primarily on COVID-19 related issues and concerns, however, the lobbyists warned us that de-licensure efforts may re-surface. It is often the case that amendments get made and changes get added to bills ‘last minute.’
And that is exactly what happened! On the morning of June 11 th , HF 2627 was amended with H8250 attached to Section 27:
House File 2627 – “an act relating to governmental and regulatory matters including the granting and renewal of licenses, certificates, and registrations, and including effective date provisions.”
Amendment H8250: Sec. 27. NEW SECTION. 272C.13 - pertained to educational requirements for several professions, including dietitians, by stating that three years of work experience will substitute the educational requirements of licensure.
Because it was the end of the Session, there were literally only hours to work on this! Jeff shared with me that there were 35 associations impacted by the changes HF 2627 was pushing for, but the four primary targets were physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, and dietitians. Several of the associations had representation/lobbyists at the Capitol…however, only two lobbyist firms were allowed to visit with key legislative staff. We dietitians were represented in that group because FSA was one of the two. In addition, your Iowa public policy team reached out for extra support from AND representatives, Pepin Tuma, Mark Rifkin, and Nate Stritzinger, who work with all Affiliates on licensure and legislative issues.
Within 24 hours, HF 2627 was finalized! As you can imagine, when it comes to politics and legislation, there is a TREMENDOUS amount of strategy, teamwork, and relationship building. Our lobbyist team’s strategy was to work with the legislators on HF 2627, rather than to flat out oppose it as Governor Reynolds is also supportive of reducing governmental red-tape. The final bill may be found here: https://www.billtrack50.com/BillDetail/1232955.
Together, your Public Policy Team and the lobbyists agreed to these points:
Sec. 27, NEW SECTION. 272C.13 Educational requirements – work experience.
Except as provided in subsection 2, a person applying for a professional or occupational license, certificate, or registration in this state who relocates to this state from another state that did not require a professional or occupational license, certificate, or registration to practice the person’s profession or occupation may* be considered to have met any education, training, or work experience requirements imposed by a licensing board in this state if the person has three or more years of related experience with a substantially similar scope of practice within the four years preceding the date of applications as determined by the board. [*originally, this word was shall…]
This section does not apply to a license, certificate, or registration issued by the board** of medicine, the board of nursing, the dental board, the board of pharmacy, or the board of educational examiners. [**we tried to get added to this list, but that is a no go. Maggie recommended that we focus on saving licensure.]
If this Code or administrative rules require a person applying for a professional or occupational license, certificate, or registration in this state to pass an examination to obtain the license, certificate, or registration, a person applying for licensure, certification, or registration under this section shall be required to pass the same examination***. [***essentially, this addition negates #1 above. But…because of the past tries for removal of some Boards, I asked the question, “What happens if the Dietetic Licensure Board is done away with?” The response: “Because we worked WITH the legislators to compromise on language in this bill, the legislators indicated they ‘will remember this.’]
On behalf of the new Public Policy & Advocacy Team members, please know that we will need all RD/RDNs in Iowa to work together to increase awareness of all segments of our profession, as well as elevate the importance of what we do. We need our legislators to know what dietitians do and how important we are to the healthcare field. Your voice matters in educating our legislators. In addition, we acknowledge and pledge to focus awareness on inequities in nutrition that exist in our state, and to support and encourage diversity in our field.
More details will be coming soon! In the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions, please contact any PPA Team member: