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GOVERNOR DAN MCKEE SIGNS GENETIC COUNSELORS LICENSING ACT LEGISLATION
MAJOR WIN FOR CANCER SURVIVORS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Written by: Joe Dziobek
Last August, on a warm summer night I spoke with Senator Susan V. Sosnowski, who represents Senate District 37, about the importance of the Genetic Counselors Licensing Act. She did not need convincing. Representative Carol Hagan McEntee, (District 33) had gotten the bill passed in the House the previous two years, but it had been a different story in the Senate. I asked Senator Sosnowski if she would sponsor it again this year and she readily agreed. She said in a soft but reassuring voice, “we will get it done this year.” We needed a sponsor, but more to the point, we needed a Senator who was willing to champion the bill and succeed where others had failed. On June 29, 2022 Governor Dan McKee signed H6643 Sub A Genetic Counselors Licensing Act into law. Senator Sosnowski had delivered on her promise.
Passage of H6643 Sub A was years in the making, marked by frustration at the inability to get the bill passed. At the same time, it strengthened the resolve of our House sponsor, Representative McEntee and our most passionate and relentless advocates, Tracey Kehoe, Dr. Anthony Mega, and Stephen Alves to rally others to the cause. The result was a broad coalition of professionals, advocates, and legislators who each played an important role in its passage—notably those who crafted the legislation, among them Dr.Paul DiSilvestro, Director of Gynecological Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital, Jennifer Scalia Wilbur, MS, Clinical Program Manager/Cancer Genetics Program, and John Richardson, Senior Director of Policy and Governmental Relations for the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Special thanks to members of the House Corporations Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in particular Committee Chair, Senator Josh Miller and to those who attended the spring Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance’s Annual Walk and answered the call to advocate for the bill with legislators.
The passage of H6643 Sub A will greatly increase the availability of genetic counselors in our state and substantially reduce wait times between genetic testing and a scheduled genetic consult to interpret the results and take preventative measures if necessary to lower the risk of an inherited life-threatening disease. The next step is for the Department of Health to promulgate regulations to license genetic counselors in the state. The Partnership will continue to provide updates on the status of genetic counselor licensure in Rhode Island as this process moves forward.
WPRO Radio Interview
Our Director, Joe Dziobek, was interviewed on the Steve Klamkin Show to discuss The Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, and our annual Cancer Summit that took place on June 13th. Click below to listen to the interview!