By Patrick O’Brien, JD, legal coordinator for the American Med Spa Association
As the first quarter of 2019 draw to a close, so does a flurry of new bills being filed in legislative bodies across the country, and a good number of these bills may affect how medical spas operate. Additional bills will continue to trickle in, but in many states, congressional and senate sessions adjourn in late spring or early summer, so this is by far the busiest season of the year for new legislation. Tens of thousands of bills have been filed, and some have the potential to affect the medical aesthetic industry. If you are an AmSpa Plus Member, you may have received updates about legislation of interest in your state. Here is a short recap of the bills we’ve seen so far and some possible trends that may be emerging.
A move towards independent or less restrictive practice for advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) is by far the most prominent development we have observed. These bills run the gamut from allowing physicians to oversee more PAs and APRNs to allowing PAs and APRNs to practice without any formal agreement or supervisory relationship at all. If these bills pass, they will change the landscape of medical practice. Once health professionals are able to practice on their own, it will lead to an explosion of independent practices and clinics, and that almost certainly will include practices that focus on aesthetic procedures. We’ll provide a deeper dive into these bills in a future article.
Next, we have not so much a trend, but rather a class of bills that would regulate aspects of medical practice or procedures at medical spas. For example, AB 821 and SB 2834 in New York would provide a regulation and licensing regime for the practice of laser hair removal, a practice that currently is unregulated in the state. Both Colorado and Oregon have introduced bills to regulate smoke that results from laser procedures; these laws currently would only affect hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, but could easily be expanded to include all laser procedure practices. In Kansas, SB 120 would allow corporations to practice medicine. In Arizona, SB 1287 would allow laser technicians to perform procedures without medical supervision—instead, they only would be overseen by a laser safety officer. And in Florida, SB 732 originally would have brought significantly more regulations to medical spas but has since been amended to be less onerous. Most recently, in Texas, SB 2366—which we have covered in previous articles and a webinar—would greatly restrict who could perform procedures in a medical spa.
Overall, a mix of beneficial, neutral and restrictive bills has been introduced this year. However, the restrictive bills would prove far more damaging than the “good” bills are beneficial if they pass. All new laws will result in a period of compliance and adaptation. Good bills may let medical aesthetic professionals do things they couldn’t do before or streamline processes. Restrictive bills, on the other hand, may impose entirely new requirements or make some of current practices illegal or uneconomical. It could only take a single bill passing to disrupt the whole industry—successful bills often spread to other states, as legislators look to other states for inspiration for their efforts, so a successful push for a restrictive law in the name of “public safety” may continue in other states. That is why it is critical, now more than ever, to come together as an industry to help determine the rules and regulations that affect this industry. The aesthetic medical field is growing larger every year, and every year will bring more notice from lawmakers.
To receive updates whenever new laws are introduced in your state, become an AmSpa Member—click here to learn more. There is no better way to keep track of the legal matters that affect your medical aesthetic practice.