State of California Waives Licensing Requirements for Out-of-State Medical Personnel to Aid in the Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

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By Angela O’Hara

On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Emergency Proclamation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Concerned that the number of persons in California requiring medical care would soon exceed locally available resources, the Governor authorized the waiver of licensing and certification requirements for out-of-state medical personnel to provide services in California.

Any out-of-state personnel, including, but not limited to, medical personnel, entering California to assist in preparing for, responding to, mitigating the effects of, and recovering from COVID-19 shall be permitted to provide services in the same manner as prescribed in Government Code section 179.5, with respect to licensing and certification.

On March 24, 2020, the State of California’s Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMS) published policies and procedures to implement the emergency proclamation of the Governor on the authorization of out-of-state medical personnel. The Medical Board of California posted the link to EMS Guidance for COVID-19 on its website. Among the policy requirements, the EMS Authority will only accept requests for out-of-state medical personnel approval from a California medical facility, telehealth agency contracted with a California medical facility, or a staffing agency providing staffing to California medical facilities. This order will aid facilities who are unable to meet COVID-19 staffing needs with California certified and licensed healthcare professionals. Facilities must submit a written request to the EMS Authority with the out-of-state individual’s name, healthcare license information, state where the license/certification is held, and copies of the individual’s certification or license and photo identification. The facility must receive approval for such hires in advance.

The California EMS Authority shall review and make a written determination within two to four business days after receipt of a complete request. The duration of the approval shall continue until the termination of the State of Emergency or the end date on the temporary recognition form, whichever comes first. The medical facility will be responsible for monitoring the healthcare providers hired based on this approval and will notify the EMS Authority of any unusual occurrence with 24 hours of the event occurring.

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) issued a statement on March 13, 2020, supporting states in verifying licenses for physicians responding to COVID-19:

The FSMB stands ready to assist our member state medical boards and state health departments across the country in their efforts to quickly and accurately verify medical licenses to meet workforce needs without sacrificing patient safety. With numerous states declaring public health emergencies and temporarily waiving licensing requirements or creating additional pathways in response to COVID-19, it is essential that these entities have complete, accurate, and up-to-date information to verify licenses.

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