Last December, we reported that both chambers of the Virginia legislature had introduced bills that would force the state’s physicians and nurses to complete “unconscious bias” training in order to obtain and keep their licenses. This week, the budgetary impact of the Senate version of this bill was revealed – and it’s significant.
Senate Bill 35 (SB35) “directs the Board of Medicine and the Board of Nursing to require unconscious bias and cultural competency training as part of the continuing education and continuing competency requirements for renewal of licensure.” This is a novel requirement for Virginia’s doctors and nurses – and the Commonwealth is sparing no expense to make it a reality. According to the Department of Planning and Budget fiscal impact statement for this legislation, the preliminary estimate of the cost is no less than $3,478,000, beginning in FY25. Each Board will require five new full-time equivalent positions – at a cost of $140,750 each – to fulfill the internal requirements created by the bill.
It’s no wonder the anticipated price of implementation is so high. SB35 requires the Boards of Medicine and Nursing to:
- Identify and designate organizations that will be approved providers of the training. With approximately 320,000 practitioners licensed by these Boards, this mandate provides a new revenue stream for establishments that offer continuing education.
- Regularly update the training on the most recent research findings. An “evidence-based curriculum” is required to be compliant with the provisions of the bill.
- Conduct studies of the “impact of training on practitioners.” This is specifically noted for licensees who work with obstetric patients and newborns, who must be educated about “how unconscious racial bias affects care during pregnancy and the postpartum period.”
- Develop methods to test for and measure training effectiveness. This indicates the current lack of methods and tools for determining the efficacy (if any) of implicit bias training.
- Maintain records of the number of practitioners that complete the training. Traditionally, physicians and nurses have self-reported their compliance with their profession’s continuing education requirements. However, due to the mandatory nature of the new requirement, each Board’s data system must be modified to collect this information.
- Submit recommendations on how to improve future iterations of the training. However, “any cost at Department of Health associated with this inclusion will be incidental.”
But these costs are not limited to the state government’s budget. SB35 imposes even greater expense onto individuals practicing medicine or nursing in Virginia. Physicians are assessed a fee of $302 for an initial license application, and $377 for every biennial renewal. Nurses must pay $190 for an initial application and $140 for each renewal. The “unconscious bias” training requirement adds even more to the expenses associated with obtaining the mandatory 60 hours of continuing education for physicians and 30 hours for nurses. Providers of approved courses charge up to $30 per contact hour, and the required number of hours for SB35’s “comprehensive” training is yet to be determined.
Why is the Virginia General Assembly concluding that the Commonwealth’s doctors and nurses are racists who must be subjected to continual re-education about supposed biases that they presumably can’t change? This so-called “science” has been proven to be flawed, and already-burdened healthcare professionals have much better things to be doing with their time, energy, and money. Residents and taxpayers will eventually need to encounter the local healthcare system. They must be fully aware of this insulting attack on Virginia’s badly needed physicians and nurses, and ask the same questions.
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