November 2023 Report
This report shares short summary highlights of tracked legislative bills and rules & regulations that have seen recent activity, as well as available board and state VMA updates.
October 30, 2023
Access to care: A critical consideration for you, your team, and our profession
Have you thought about what it means for people or communities to have limited or no access to veterinary care? Have you thought about the role of our profession, and the obligations and responsibilities that come with being a member of the greatest profession on earth?
I remember a time in my early years in practice when colleagues began initiatives like the Chinook Project, to serve the remote communities of Northern Canada; or Vets Without Borders, which sought to build long-term solutions for underserved communities; or Community Veterinary Outreach, which focused on serving the underprivileged people and animals in our own biggest cities.
These were initiatives that garnered much respect for our profession. Indeed, they still do.
I remember feeling immense pride as I watched so many colleagues working for the benefit of society — perhaps with students in tow — in a genuine win-win-win for mentors, students, and underserved individuals and communities who were often disconnected from society and facing the kind of major human and animal welfare challenges that only a few of us can genuinely understand. I remember the early days of Community Veterinary Outreach, initiated to serve the innercity and homeless populations who owned pets, and the efforts expended to change the social narrative and recognize that pet ownership and the importance of the human-animal bond (and the directly connected human health outcomes) should not be a function of economic well-being or ability to pay.
The veterinary profession is unlike any other known to society; no other profession has the ability to cross so readily between animal well-being and human wellness. This truth is the underpinning of our collective responsibility to serve and the underpinning for our profession’s historically high respect within society.
It is often said that “respect is not given, it is earned.” In 2013, veterinarians ranked 7th among the most respected professions; and in 2022, our profession ranked 12th. This is not a reflection of us as individuals, but we should not ignore that societal views have shifted, and we should each spend time reflecting on what has led to this change.
Historically, we have almost entirely framed our understanding of “access to care” based on geographic extremes or economic disadvantage. This may have been largely true in the past, but we are now at a crossroad where, again, the reality has shifted and access to care is no longer solely a challenge in our historical context.
There have been many recent discussions among leaders in our profession and media reports about the increasingly challenging economic conditions that are making access to care a much more real mainstream problem. This, coupled with the fact that many practices are facing challenges in providing service owing to staffing challenges and barriers left over from the COVID-19 pandemic, is contributing to the very real risk of our profession falling short in serving society at large.
I am not alone in my increasing concern, as access to care has become a frequent topic of discussion at meetings, here at home and abroad. This discussion has been top-of-mind at our own recent CVMA convention, as well as at recent Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) meetings, where attendees and speakers highlighted both serious risks to our profession and underlying challenges in providing service to our communities (and not strictly the most remote ones). Several media reports over the last year have emphasized the cost of veterinary care and the difficultly in accessing care as significant factors leading to increased surrender rates in a post pandemic world that is financially stressed owing to the greatest inflation pressure in over 30 years.
Our profession faces many challenges, but I believe we are absolutely up to the task of meeting them. In the coming days and months, we will all need to find ways to limit the price pressures in veterinary medicine and find ways to break down the remnants of pandemic barriers to access and provide a spectrum of care appropriate to patient and owner needs. Remember, there is no “gold standard,” only access and good medicine appropriate to the situation you face.
Each of us will have a role to play, as will each of our team members. The challenge for each of us will be to look inward and ask our teams, “What does good look like?” and to engage them in developing solutions at home that will better improve access to care for the society we serve.
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
Marian Wright Edelman,
Dr. Trevor Lawson
2023-10 ~ LAC 46LXXXV.103 – Meetings of Boards via Electronic Means
2023-01 ~ LAC 46LXXXV.301.801.1201 – Repeal of Letters of Reference Requirement for Applications
The following regulatory and legislative items were discussed at the 10/26/23 meeting.
Ms. Barrett introduced Matt Novak as the new Policy & Economic Analyst for DHP. Ms. Barrett provided information on the following:
· 2023 legislative update
· Petitions for Rulemaking
Ms. Halsey made a motion to deny the petition submitted by the VVMA because the Board believed medical learning requirements contained in the current continuing education require should not be reduced. The motion was seconded by Dr. Cockburn. The motion carried with six votes in favor, and one opposed by Dr. Newman.
Submission by Gerald Blackburn
Dr. Cockburn made a motion to initiate rulemaking to implement the request and to reduce licensure by endorsement requirements in other parts of the regulations. The motion was seconded by Dr. Newman. The motion carried with six votes in favor, and one abstention by Dr. Karras.
• Regulatory Update
Initiation of periodic review of public participation guidelines
Dr. Karras made a motion to initiate the periodic review of the public participation guidelines. The motion was seconded by Dr. Newman. The motion carried unanimously.
Consideration of fast-track regulatory action to allow agency subordinates to hear credentials cases
• Guidance Document Update
Ms. Knachel reported that the board office had received several questions related to whether a licensed veterinary technician was allowed to perform certain procedures. The board discussed the various procedures. Staff will update the guidance document and present a draft to the Board for its consideration at its next meeting.
• Policy review for electronic participation amendment
Dr. Newman made a motion to revise the electronic participation policy as presented. The motion was seconded by Dr. Karras. The motion carried unanimously.
As part of FDA’s attempt to slow the development of antibiotic resistance, as of June 11, 2023, animal antibiotics now require a prescription from a licensed veterinarian. Anyone selling these antibiotics is now required to be licensed with the Board as a veterinary wholesaler and registered with the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Additional information from FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine regarding the guidance for industry can be found here.
Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority
November 13, 2023 – The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has submitted proposed rule changes to its Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for review. Red-lined documents noting these proposed changes are available here:
The FTC will subsequently post the proposed rules to the federal register for public comment.
Until changes to the rules are approved by the FTC, the previously approved version of HISA’s ADMC rules, which took effect May 22, 2023, will remain in place. Those rules are available in full on HISA’s Regulations Page.
Similar to the proposed Racetrack Safety rule changes which HISA submitted to the FTC in September, the proposed changes to the ADMC rules were developed after months of dialogue with and feedback from racing participants across the country, including HISA’s Horsemen’s Advisory Group. During this time, the proposed rules were shared with industry members for informal comments and published on HISA’s website for additional industry input. The proposed changes submitted to the FTC today were reviewed and approved by HISA’s ADMC Committee and full Board of Directors.
When and if these rule changes are approved by the FTC, HISA will undertake robust educational efforts to ensure horsemen nationwide are fully aware of these changes and well-equipped to comply with them before they go into effect.
When the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was signed into federal law, it charged the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) with drafting and enforcing uniform safety and integrity rules in Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. Overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), HISA is implementing, for the first time, a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack facility. HISA is comprised of two programs: the Racetrack Safety Program, which went into effect on July 1, 2022, and the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, which went into effect on May 22, 2023.
The Racetrack Safety Program includes operational safety rules and national racetrack accreditation standards that seek to enhance equine welfare and minimize equine and jockey injury. The Program expands veterinary oversight, imposes surface maintenance and testing requirements, enhances jockey safety, regulates riding crop use and implements voided claim rules, among other important measures.
The ADMC Program includes a centralized testing and results management process and applies uniform penalties for violations efficiently and consistently across the United States. These rules and enforcement mechanisms are administered by an independent agency, the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), established by Drug Free Sport International (DFS). HIWU oversees testing, educates stakeholders on the Program, accredits laboratories, investigates potential ADMC violations and prosecutes any such violations.
Download the November 2023 Newsletter here.