A bill requiring genetic counselors to obtain state licensing before they can practice is likely headed back to the drawing board.
The Greenwood Genetic Center-backed measure moved through the House in February by a 101-12 vote, but was held up over concerns aired by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation about implementation and need for such legislation.
The General Assembly adjourns on Thursday to end the first year of a biennial session. Bills added to either chamber’s calendars before then keep their place in line.
But state Sen. Danny Verdin, R-Laurens and chairman of the Medical Affairs Committee, said on Thursday that H. 3157, co-sponsored by Greenwood state Reps. Anne Parks, a Democrat, and Republican John McCravy, would face better odds if it was worked on during the off-session and filed anew in January.
“I’m going to suggest we work collaboratively, and we may even come back with a reintroduced, reconstructed piece of legislation because we have problems here. We have just a multitude of questions from the proposed regulatory agencies,” Verdin said.
During a February hearing on the bill, Katie Phillips, legislative liaison for the state’s licensing agency, said the legislation was unnecessary.
“One thing we would like to mention is that what we have heard as the need to regulate this industry has come from these public hearings,” Phillips said. “Nothing has been brought to our attention that the unregulated practice of this profession has harmed the public, and that’s one of the criteria within when a profession or occupation should be determined to be licensed.”
The bills would create a five-member Board of Genetic Counselor Examiners appointed by the governor that would operate under the administration of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. It also enables the body to set up license fees of up to $300 biannually and levy penalties of up to $10,000 for violators.
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, the discipline is a rapidly expanding field, growing by 88 percent from 2006 to 2016 with a projected workforce increase of 72 percent by 2026.
“According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NGSC), there are currently 45 Genetic Counselors practicing in South Carolina. NGSC estimates an additional 30 to 60 out-of-state counselors will be providing services to South Carolina constituents via telemedicine. These counselors will also need to be licensed by the board,” the bill’s fiscal impact statement indicates.
It would cost $45,217 in the 2019-20 fiscal year and then $43,867 annually after that to the LLR budget.
State Sen. Mike Gambrell, R-Honea Path and chairman of a subcommittee that studied the bill, said it would apply to 45 in-state counselors and 60 who practice via telemedicine.