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Message from the Director
Recognizing Regulatory Efforts
Randy Everitt
Randall Everitt
In my first six months as director of the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA), I have been impressed by how agency staff juggles the demands of overseeing licensing and regulation of multiple health and related professions.
 
In this short period of time, my getting up to speed on the issues affecting OHLA's regulated professions and 10 boards and councils wouldn't have been possible without the wealth of knowledge and experience of agency staff and our board and council members.
 
I'd also like to acknowledge the wide range of agency stakeholders who provide us with diverse perspectives and feedback on a wide range of issues.
 
Please join me in applauding their efforts.  A key aspect of OHLA in 2010 and beyond is our commitment to recognizing the efforts of everyone involved in our regulatory endeavors.

Having a Voice in the Process
Board meeting
One of my first goals after becoming agency director in August 2009 was to restore confidence in the agency both internally and externally.
 
Part of that process has been to instill in agency staff the belief that their work matters, that they are the experts as what they do, and that agency management is here to help and assist in any way we can.
 
We are also being guided by the same philosophy for our 10 boards and councils by giving them the tools and resources to be true partners with the agency to maximize our regulatory efforts.
 
The goal is to provide everyone involved with the agency with a sense that they have a voice in the process and that we are all working toward a common goal:  putting qualified Oregonians to work and protecting Oregon consumers.

Central Issues at OHLA
OHLA professions
OHLA accomplished much in its first 10 years as a state consumer protection agency.  But that doesn't mean we can't do better in the next 10 years.
 
In this year and beyond, we will be communicating the key issues of our regulated professions to licensees, stakeholders and the public to provide you with a good grasp of the work we are doing.
 
In addition to these profession-specific issues, OHLA is addressing agency-wide issues that affect all of our regulated professions.  We will provide you with a more in-depth picture of those issues in the future, but for now let me highlight them for you:
  • Ensuring the Security and Validity of the Licensing Process:  We are doing everything possible to ensure that applicants for licensure are qualified, from tightening examination security to reviewing and fine-tuning the licensure process.

  • Establishing Legally Sound, Evidence-Based Policy: Hot-button public health and safety issues and complex scope of practice determinations require thorough legal review and effective research.  We are doing the difficult work to ensure that our regulatory decisions are based on evidence and are legally defensible.

    While we attempt to be as inclusive as possible in our policy development, we will not be unduly influenced by any one stakeholder group at the expense of another.  Our main stakeholders are Oregon consumers, and we must do what's best to protect their health, safety and consumer rights.

  • Promoting Regulatory Transparency:  We are striving to be as transparent in our regulatory efforts as possible. Transparency spans everything from the agency budget to policy development.  When you ask a question, expect to get an honest answer.  We are part of statewide efforts to provide more government transparency.

  • Establishing Fair and Sustainable Fees:  A key part of our transparency efforts is communicating the process for establishing licensing fees that provide funds for the agency to continue doing its work without being unnecessarily burdensome to licensees.  Striking that balance is easier said than done, but we are working diligently to achieve that goal.

    In this difficult economic climate, we must provide evidence that any fee changes, particularly fee increases, are based on a thorough review involving all agency stakeholders.  All state agencies are under greater scrutiny to offer proof that any fee increase is warranted.

    Fee increases are not inevitable.  OHLA recently proposed fee decreases for some professions after further review.  The agency recently implemented a fee decrease for the Respiratory Therapist Licensing Board that reduced the application fee for temporary licensure from $150 to $50 and the six-month temporary license from $100 to $50.

    We are also reducing traditionally high fees for the Board of Direct Entry Midwifery on April 1 from $500 for an application fee to $150, and from $1900 for two-year licensure to $630 annually. 

    We are able to do this because we are continually refining the cost-allocation model that takes into account the agency's direct and indirect costs for providing licensing and regulatory services, from conducting examinations to inspecting businesses and investigating suspected violations of Oregon law.

    OHLA's intention for lowering midwifery fees is to reduce barriers to licensure for the state's midwives, for which licensure is currently voluntary.  Licensed midwives are held to state requirements for the health and safety of mother and baby.

Join Us to Make OHLA Better
Lightbulb idea
We appreciate your ideas
I've given credit to agency staff for the great day-to-day work they do and to board and council members for the invaluable contributions they make, but there is a whole cast of others who provide valuable input and counsel to the agency.
 
I'd like to thank these agency stakeholders who take time out of their busy day to contact us and let us know what they think and how they feel.
 
This ongoing dialogue may at times be contentious but is essential to achieving our consumer protection mission. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring OHLA is pursuing its consumer protection mission with intelligence and vigor.
 
That's why I encourage you to attend a board or council meeting, give us your thoughts and ideas, and let us know how we can do better.  While the buck stops with me, I know that not any one individual has all the answers.
 
If you think we're headed in the wrong direction on any of the multiple issues the agency is addressing on any given day, please let us know. We want to be as inclusive as possible, and that means taking seriously feedback from agency stakeholders with diverse opinions and perspectives.
 
Please join us in making OHLA even better than before, a model of what a central regulatory agency should be:  efficient, effective, inclusive and steadfast in our efforts to protect the health, safety and rights of Oregon consumers while ensuring only qualified Oregonians are licensed to provide services to the public.