By Divya Sriharan
On June 4, 2021, the Medical Board of California (MBC) published notice of its intent to amend sections 1366.3, 1366.31, and 1379.07, Title 16 of the CCR regarding Medical and Midwife Assistant Certifying Organizations and Administration of Training for Medical Assistants, which is set forth in the proposed language. According to the notice, this proposal will allow for-profit medical and midwife assistant certifying organizations to be eligible for Board approval if they are accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and meet other existing requirements for applicants. The Board noted that “[e]liminating the requirement that the certifying organization be non-profit may result in an increase in medical and midwife assistant certifying organizations, which could increase the options for medical and midwife assistants to choose an approved certifying organization that meets their needs.”
The Board, in its initial statement of reasons, outlined a petition for rulemaking it had received on November 9, 2018, that requested the removal of the requirement that medical assistant certifying organizations approved by the Board be non-profit or tax-exempt organizations. Currently, California law does not require medical or midwife assistants to be certified by an organization unless the assistant is providing training to other assistants. However, for an assistant to become certified, they must go through a certifying organization that is a non-profit and is approved by the Board. In the petition, Ellison Wilson Advocacy, LLC, on behalf of the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) argued that the quality of certifying organizations has no correlation with being non-profit and tax-exempt.
At its August 9, 2019 meeting [Agenda Item 23], the Board discussed the petition and approved the proposed language as outlined in this rulemaking proposal. Several Board members agreed the petition was necessary and that it should move forward for rulemaking. A few members expressed that they believed the proposed amendment would ensure a wider range of higher quality certification programs. The main concern raised was the issue of public transparency, as one Board member stated his opinion that for-profit companies should disclose their status to the public.
As outlined in the initial statement of reason, the first amendment to section 1366.3(a)(2) would update the language that describes medical assistant education programs by making the language consistent with the Education Code and current law. This amendment would also clarify the proper administration of training of medical assistants and identify the appropriate oversight agencies.
The second proposed change to amend section 1366.31 would update the language regarding medical assistant applicant information. It would also replace the previous language regarding accrediting organizations with a new, more specific language that would require certifying agencies to establish their accreditation with the NCCA. The amendment would eliminate the requirement for organizations to be non-profit or tax-exempt. This is perhaps the most significant change, as this was the goal of the petition.
The last proposed change to amend section 1379.07(a)(4) would clarify that the Board accepts accreditation from the NCCA. It would also eliminate the requirement for the certifying organizations to be non-profit or tax-exempt.
The public comment period for these amendments ended on July 20, 2021.