Healthcare professional licensure requirements modified to respond to COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 quarantine doctor patient with masks

In response to the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, government agencies are quickly modifying the licensure requirements for physicians and other healthcare professionals.

On a national level, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) temporarily waived the requirement that out-of-state practitioners be licensed in the state where they are providing services if they are licensed in another state. Specifically, CMS will waive the licensing requirements when a practitioner:

  • Is enrolled in the Medicare program;
  • Possesses a valid license to practice in the state that relates to the practitioner’s Medicare enrollment;
  • Is furnishing services, whether in person or via telemedicine, in a state in which the emergency is occurring to provide relief efforts; and
  • Is not affirmatively excluded from practice in the state.

A physician may contact the provider enrollment hotline for the Medicare Administrative Contractor for the geographic area to seek the CMS waiver of licensure requirements.

Many state medical boards, including Oklahoma, have also modified their licensure requirements to allow out-of-state physicians to provide medical services during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Pursuant to Amended Executive Order 2020-7, the Oklahoma Medical Board of Licensure and Supervision created an online application for temporary licensure for eligible providers, which include Medical Doctors, Physician Assistants, Anesthesiologist Assistants, Physical Therapists, and Occupational Therapists. To be eligible, the provider must hold a license issued by any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or other U.S. territories, and the license must be in good standing.  In Oklahoma, the temporary license will last 90 days from the issue date or 14 days following the termination of Executive Order 2020-07.  The Medical Board has expedited this process for temporary licensure by aiming to review and approve temporary licenses for applicants in good standing within 24 hours. From March 20 to April 16, the Medical Board issued 168 temporary licenses to applicants.  Additionally, the Oklahoma State Board of Osteopathic Examiners and the Oklahoma Board of Nursing have created similar emergency temporary license applications for osteopathic physicians and nurses.

If you have questions about temporary licensure or other healthcare regulatory matters, please don’t hesitate to contact your McAfee & Taft Healthcare attorney.