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Staying on Top of Health Policy Debates by Monitoring State Regulatory Boards

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A growing area of focus for government affairs professionals who cover statewide legislative issues is the activity happening in state regulatory boards for the medical, nursing, dental, and pharmaceutical fields.

Tasked with protecting the public from fraudulent or negligent medical care, these boards are usually composed of a mix of healthcare professionals and public members, all appointed by the state’s governor. State boards regulate the practice of medicine in each state by determining the educational standards medical professionals have to meet and maintain throughout their careers to remain licensed. They also establish standards of care for diseases, injuries, and medical conditions, and they enforce these standards through their power to revoke medical licenses or impose fines.

Some of the most controversial topics being discussed in state boards around the country reflect the hottest political and cultural debates happening at other levels of government, including abortion, the treatment of gender dysphoria, and the use of opioids for pain management.

Top Regulatory Issues Impacting Medical Professionals

The decisions made at state regulatory board meetings have a direct impact on medical professionals. Although state boards spend most of their time dealing with routine licensing issues, they also have a regulatory function. When the state legislature passes laws about health insurance coverage or restricting certain medical practices, it’s the state boards that work out how doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists will comply with those laws.

For example, when a state legislature passes a new law restricting abortion, the state medical board decides what the new standard of care for pregnant people looks like when abortion is no longer an option for non-viable pregnancies and other complications.

Here are a few examples of the issues being discussed at rule-making meetings throughout the country in the last few months:

  • The Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine recently announced a rule meeting to determine the practice standards for the treatment of gender dysphoria.
  • In Oklahoma, the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision included an agenda item for review, discussion, and possible action on abortion guidelines at its Sept. 15-16 meeting.
  • In Colorado, the State Board of Pharmacy recently banned pharmacists from employing prescribers for the sole purpose of getting around their restrictions on prescribing drugs.

Claire Ernst, director of government affairs at the Medical Group Management Association, says it’s urgent for government affairs people to stay on top of board activities. “There can be a lot to keep track of, but it’s critical that providers are in compliance with any and all rules and regulations put forth by their state medical boards,” she says.

Top 10 States for State Board Regulatory Activity

Based on the number of meeting minutes and agenda documents in the Curate database, these are the top 10 states for state regulatory board activity from August 1 to September 30, 2022.


Number of Documents

















New York




Improving Visibility into State Board Activity

While the rulemaking process for state regulatory boards tends to be more straightforward than the typical legislative process at the state or national level, keeping up with boards across all 50 states can still become an unmanageable task because of the large volume of meetings and documents.

Most of the boards meet monthly or quarterly, with agendas typically published a few weeks in advance, and all meetings include a public comment period. To weigh in on the issues being discussed, advocates must submit comments or register to speak ahead of time, so timing is crucial.

At Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Director of State Public Policy Nicole D. Hayes says the volume of documents produced by the many boards across the country is hard to keep up with manually. “As I am overseeing healthcare-related policies introduced in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, I may not always see all the various rules being proposed,” she said.

Government affairs professionals have been using bill tracking services to monitor health policy legislation at the state and federal levels for years, but until recently, those services didn’t cover state boards.

Because of the difficulty of tracking these boards, most government affairs teams rely on their network to alert them when a controversial issue comes up in a particular state regulatory board. However, this informal method of tracking isn’t foolproof, and advocates often miss the opportunity to weigh in during the public comment period or to engage their membership in advocacy campaigns.

That’s why Curate, part of FiscalNote, recently expanded its data sources to include state regulatory boards, collecting meeting minutes and agenda documents, and delivering word-for-word insights matching the policy topics organizations need to track. Curate’s database includes 209 statewide boards that license healthcare professionals and regulate the practice of nursing, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacology in 50 states plus D.C.

Get Ahead of State Regulatory Boards with Policy Monitoring Software

Healthcare professionals expect the advocacy groups that represent them to keep them informed of any changes that would impact their practice area, and to be their voice when new rules are being proposed.

Take a more proactive approach to your state regulatory board monitoring efforts with legislative and regulatory tracking software from Curate.

Schedule a demo to see how Curate can help you stay ahead with timely alerts for the issues that matter most to your organization.

Need to track a different state board? Curate can track state boards across all industries. Contact us and let us know which ones you need to monitor.

Adam Stone contributed to this article.

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