COVID-19 Waivers Creating Some Confusion

A blue door with two small holes in it.

There’s been some confusion over licensing requirements for out-of-state healthcare professionals in the state of Florida. It started in March, when Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, signed off on Emergency Order 20-002, which allowed healthcare professionals, advanced life support professionals and basic life support professionals holding a valid, unrestricted and unencumbered license in any state, territory and/or district to render services in Florida in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the order exempted out-of-state physicians, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants and advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) from licensing requirements so that they could provide telemedicine services across state lines.

The order was to last for 30 days, until April 15, 2020. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon on the day the order expired that Dr. Rivkees finally issued another order (Emergency Order 20-004), extending Emergency Order 20-002 until May 8, 2020. By waiting until the day the original order expired, the state left many healthcare providers scrambling to figure out how they were going to continue to provide coverage without this licensing waiver.

It is understandable that while we are working in an unprecedented environment there will be some confusion. Some states are doing a better job than others in acting quickly and decisively.  

According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, as of April 21, 48 states, along with Washington, D.C., have modified licensure requirements in some way to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Forty-five states have modified in-state licensure requirements for telehealth.

Last month, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) approved waivers for providers that allow for flexibilities in furnishing services to Medicare and Medicaid patients across the country, which included the expansion of telemedicine services and the payment for such services. And, as we previously wrote about, CMS also announced the acceleration of payments to providers.

This is a situation that is changing daily. As a result, sometimes precision is sacrificed for speed. Some states are better at clarifying what is permitted and what is not. Healthcare providers must continue to keep abreast of the changing regulatory environment. As the situation continues to evolve, The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale is here help our clients navigate these changes. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact us at 305-358-4500 or at

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The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale