Healthcare providers impacted by waiver rollback after Florida emergency order expires
On June 26, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed an executive order (the Order) declaring a public health emergency (PHE) in Florida to lapse. The expiration of this executive order, originally enacted on March 9, 2020, in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, effectively ends several key waivers instituted during the COVID-19 PHE, in particular related to licensure and telehealth regulations in Florida. This was done without any grace period for transition and with little fanfare to alert the affected providers. Healthcare providers in Florida should be on the lookout as their practices may be severely impacted by the unceremonious end to the PHE in Florida and that effect on relevant waivers.
Included within the COVID-19 waivers made effective by the Order was a waiver related to the requirement that doctors and nurses providing healthcare services in Florida to hold a Florida license. This waiver allowed out-of-state medical professionals to practice in Florida throughout the duration of the PHE without having a Florida license. Due to the expiration of the executive order, out-of-state medical professionals are once again required to comply with statutory requirements to obtain a Florida license to provide healthcare services in Florida.
The expiration of the Order, however, does not affect the validity of the statute related to the provision of telehealth services in Florida. The Florida telehealth statute, which went into effect in July 2019 (prior to the PHE), sets forth the requirements for out-of-state medical practitioners to provide telehealth services in Florida. For example, telehealth providers who are licensed out-of-state can treat Florida patients so long as the healthcare provider is registered with the Medical Board (and complies with all the other statutory requirements).
It is imperative that providers continue to remain updated on the changing healthcare landscape, both in Florida and nationally, to ensure compliance with the relevant guidance, waivers and their subsequent expiration, if relevant. Having transition plans in place to allow for rapid return to pre-COVID-19 operations can be a key tool to preventing any regulatory or compliance failures and potential resulting sanctions or recoupments.
For more information or for assistance in setting up transition plans, policies and procedures as we move into this next phase of the PHE, please contact one of the attorneys listed below.