Physicians, dentists, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists and other medical workers would have to undergo a criminal background check when applying for a new state license under a bill approved Tuesday by an Indiana House committee.
The House Public Health Committee voted 7-1 in favor of the bill, which would permit state boards to suspend, deny or revoke the licenses of people with criminal offenses determined to affect the person's ability to perform their duties.
About 30,000 people apply a year for new health care worker licenses that are issued by 18 boards or commissions, said Marty Allain, general counsel for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.
"The current system is self-reporting, so you're looking at a better system of getting the information to the state to make better decisions," Allain said.
The Senate already has approved a version of the bill, which also would allow state boards to randomly select some seeking license renewals for criminal checks. Nearly 200,000 people are currently licensed or certified in one of the 20 professions specified in the bill.
The bill allows action against a person's license if they've been convicted of various offenses, including illegal drug possession, fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and sex crimes.
Rep. Peggy Welch, who is a nurse, said she was bothered by the strain on the state licensing agency, which has a budget of about $5 million while some $18 million in licensing fees are paid each year. She said most of that money was going to the state's general fund.
"I have a concern about one more fee, one more fee, one more fee," said Welch, D-Bloomington.