HHS Sends Letter, Guidance to States Encouraging State Licensing Waivers, Relaxation of Scope of Practice Requirements
On March 24, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar sent a letter and guidance to governors outlining the steps he would like to see states take to “extend the capacity of the health care workforce” to properly manage the growing crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. These recommendations include temporarily waiving licensing requirements for health care providers, who are licensed, registered or certified in good standing in other states or territories. The letter encourages states to waive regulations related to telehealth, including the establishment of patient-provider relationships, and restrictions on the settings where health care professionals can see patients. In states that require advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physicians assistants to collaborate with a physician, HHS recommends that states relax physician collaboration requirements, waive any geographic restrictions, and allow supervising physicians to do so remotely if states are unwilling to waive collaboration requirements. In their guidance document, HHS recommends states utilize either the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner Act, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), or other mutual aid compacts to facilitate license reciprocity. In an effort to allow retired healthcare providers to quickly reenter the workforce, HHS recommends that states waive licensing fees for re-licensing or re-certifications during this emergency.