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Introduction to State Health Policy

New Thinking on Education & Regulation

Of Health Care Professionals


Tim Henderson, Program Manager, National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington, DC.

Mimi Fields, M.D., M.P.H., Private Consultant, Olympia, WA.

State policymakers are faced with many options when determining how to best fulfill their roles as educators and regulators of health professions. This session was designed as a primer on health professions education and regulation to address issues including but not restricted to:

  • Changes in the health care workforce environment.
  • Traditional and emerging State policies for financing and curricula of State-funded education.
  • State roles for regulating and licensing health care professionals.

State legislatures play important roles in the regulation of health professionals, including:

  • Doctors.
  • Nurse practitioners and registered nurses.
  • Physicians assistants.

States decide on key licensure issues, including whether or not professionals should be licensed and specific practice parameters. Professional regulation is important because the State has a responsibility to protect consumers, ensure quality, and provide access. States continue to face challenges in the health care market as professional practice changes and as new technologies become more common.

Dr. Mimi Fields, M.D., described these challenges as a way for States to analyze and operationalize services within the context of their markets and to effectively provide services to their populations.

Tim Henderson, Program Manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures, discussed the current climate of medical education nationwide. Graduate Medical Education (GME) has been affected by the significant growth in managed care. Prior to the managed care market, nearly all States voluntarily funded GME. Under managed care, GME dollars are at risk. These changes jeopardize medical education and change the demographics of residency programs throughout the country.


Henderson T. Financing Medical Education by the States. Washington DC. National Conference of State Legislatures. 1998.

Shimberg B, Roederer D. Questions a Legislator Should Ask. Lexington, Kentucky. The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation. 1994.

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