An Update On The Scope Of Practice Battle In South Carolina

Michelle L. Butterworth DPM FACFAS

Podiatrists from South Carolina are once again trying to change our practice act to include the ankle and lower extremity amputations. As I noted in the previous blog (see “A Closer Look At Scope Of Practice Battles In South Carolina”, we presented our bill to the 3M subcommittee on April 29th. After listening to one speaker from each side (those for our bill and those against our bill), the chairman of this subcommittee instructed both sides to meet the following week to see if a compromise regarding the language of the bill could be met.

Representatives form both sides did meet the following week on May 7th. From our side, we had three DPMs: the President of the South Carolina Podiatric Medical Association (SCPMA); the chairman of the legislative committee for the SCPMA; and the chairman for the state licensing board for podiatry in South Carolina. The chairman of the state licensing board is also a representative for the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. We also had our two lobbyists in attendance.

In regard to the opponents of the proposed bill, no MDs were present. They claim they were unaware of the meeting date and time although the opponents of the bill scheduled this particular day. Additionally, the MDs who were supposed to attend were from Columbia, the location of the meeting. None of the DPMs present for this meeting were from the area of the meeting location so we had to travel quite a distance.

However, the opposition did have four representatives, all of whom were lobbyists. One represented the South Carolina Medical Association (SCMA), another represented the orthopedic division of the SCMA, another represented the orthopedists and another represented the family physicians.

Unfortunately, there was no compromise at this meeting. The opposition claims we are not trained to do what we are asking to do and there is no consistency within our profession. Although the chairman of the subcommittee was very disappointed that the MDs did not attend this meeting, she still wants us to work with the MDs to try to reach some type of compromise.

The second half of the legislative year will begin in January so our bill will not go any further, if at all, until then. We will continue to try and reach a compromise with the opposition as recommended by the subcommittee chair. However, at this point, it does not seem real promising.

Besides the fact that we are small in numbers and short in money, this was the worst year ever according to the speaker on getting anything accomplished politically as a result of the state budget and all the furloughs that were mandated. South Carolina legislators have been debating the state budget and battling our governor, who does not want to take the stimulus package so not much else has been considered. I believe our efforts have been defeated once again but hopefully only temporarily.

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