Senate committee refers genetic counseling licensure bill

A Senate bill that would create a pathway to license genetic counselors was referred this week by the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. The legislation,  SB 0034, would bring Maryland in line with the majority of states that already offer a license for this service.


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“There is a growing need for more counselors who have a specific background and expert communication skills to help patients navigate some really difficult decisions when it comes to inheritable diseases,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Clarence Lam, MD.

Not only will passage promote professional accountability in the field, it will also help fill the growing need. Demand for genetic counselors is expected to grow by 21% over the next decade, Lam said.

Establishing a licensure pathway will also allow for the use of telemedicine, as most state and federal telehealth rules require licensure, he said.

“Most Maryland genetic counselors were forced to seek out-of-state licenses to continue to provide care during the pandemic,” Lam told the committee.

Dr. Adam Riker, a surgical oncologist, testified that he relies on genetic counselors to work with his patients on ordering the right tests to check for inheritable diseases.

“Certified genetic counselors are a really important part of my practice. I really depend on my genetic counselors to talk to my patients, order the tests and then have that follow up.”

A bill that eases the process for certified nursing assistants to renew their certificates was also referred to committee. The bill, SB0013, is sponsored by Sen. Addie Eckhardt and would expedite the process through which CNAs can successfully re-certify and re-enter the workforce.

Rhonda Scott is the deputy director at Maryland Board of Nursing. She said that “Many of our constituents are reaching out, wanting to come back to the workforce.”

Also referred was SB0084, which would allow pharmacists to administer some medications and maintenance injectable medications.

“I get my flu shots at a pharmacy on a regular basis,” said Sen. Ronald Young, who is sponsoring the legislation.

Young noted that the bill’s counterpart unanimously passed the House last session.