California Department of Consumer Affairs Continues Issuing Healthcare Professional Licensing Waivers

ArentFox Schiff

Arent Fox

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) continues to issue and extend waivers under Governor Newsom’s March 30, 2020 Executive Order, which authorized the DCA to temporarily modify licensing and staffing requirements for healthcare professionals licensed under the California Business and Professions Code (Code).

Here are some of the latest updates:

Order Waiving License Renewal Requirements (October 22, 2020)

The DCA waived certain license renewal examination and continuing education requirements for providers with active licenses due to expire between March 31, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The order withdrew and rescinded its March 31, 2020, July 1, 2020, and August 27, 2020 orders. Professionals may still be required by their licensing boards to submit renewal or other forms, and unless the order is amended or extended, they must comply with any waived requirements within six months of the order.

Order Waiving Postgraduate Training License Deadline (October 22, 2020)

This order temporarily waived the deadline for individuals enrolled in postgraduate training programs on January 1, 2020, who would have been required to obtain a postgraduate training license (PTAL) from the Medical Board of California or Osteopathic Medical Board of California by June 30, 2020, under Code Section 2064.5(e) and (f), as long as a PTAL is obtained by December 31, 2020. Any failure to obtain a PTAL by December 31 will cause all privileges and exemptions under Section 2064.5 to automatically expire. The order withdrew and superseded previous orders on May 6, 2020 and August 27, 2020. All other PTAL requirements, and the 39-month time period during which postgraduate trainees may practice medicine in approved programs without a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, pursuant to Sections 2064.5(b) and 2065(d), remain in place.

Orders Relating to Other Healthcare Professionals Licensed under Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code (October 22, 2020)

In the four October 22, 2020 orders below, the DCA again extended four May 6, 2020 orders after they were previously extended on July 1, 2020 and August 27, 2020. The new orders now terminate on December 31, 2020.

  1. Order Waiving In-Person Physician Examination Requirement for Continued Physical Therapy Treatment;
  2. Order Waiving Face-to-Face Supervision Requirements for Psychology Trainees;
  3. Order Waiving In-Person Supervision Requirements for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants and Required Professional Experience Temporary Licensees; and
  4. Order Waiving Face-to-Face Training and Supervision Requirements for Marriage Family Therapists, Professional Clinical Counselors, and Clinical Social Workers.

Order Extending Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse-Midwife Supervision By 60 Days (October 2, 2020)

The DCA again extended the three waivers below, which are now set to expire on December 10, 2020. The three waivers were originally issued in April 14, 2020 orders and subsequently extended in an August 11, 2020 order.

  1. Order Waiving Physician Assistant Supervision Requirements;
  2. Order Waiving Nurse Practitioner Supervision Requirements; and
  3. Order Waiving Nurse-Midwife Supervision Requirements.

Note that these orders waived only certain, and not all, supervision requirements. PAs, NPs, CNMs, and their supervising physicians should review the waivers carefully to understand what requirements are, and what are not, waived. 

Order Waiving License Reactivation or Restoration Requirements (September 17, 2020)

The DCA again temporarily waived continuing education requirements and the payment of certain fees for providers with licenses that have been “in a retired, inactive, or canceled status” for “no longer than five years.” This order withdrew and superseded the DCA’s March 31, 2020 order. Licenses reactivated or restored under the new waiver are now valid until January 1, 2021, or until the end of the state of emergency, whichever occurs first. To renew or restore their licenses, healthcare professionals may still be required by their licensing boards to submit renewal or other forms.

Order Waiving Restrictions on Pharmacies, Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Relating to Ordering, Collecting Specimens for, and Performing COVID-19 Tests (August 25, 2020)

This order withdrew and superseded the DCA’s May 12, 2020 order and its July 7, 2020 extension. It has no specified end date and “may be amended from time to time” at the DCA Director’s discretion. By waiving certain provisions of the Code and accompanying regulations to the extent described in the order, it permits the following:

  • Pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians may conduct CLIA-waived point-of-care COVID-19 tests or examinations without a laboratory director, subject to specified conditions. For example, testing is limited to CLIA-waived COVID-19 tests, which are United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized and performed consistent with any applicable FDA Emergency Use Authorization. In addition, pharmacies and pharmacists must fulfill disease reporting requirements, and pharmacies must comply with all other federal requirements and be registered with the California Department of Public Health under Code Section 1265 (which shall not require identification of a laboratory director).
  • Pharmacists may perform the following functions, as long as (1) the COVID-19 test is FDA authorized, (2) the pharmacist is competent and trained to collect specimens and perform testing, and (3) the specimen is collected and the test performed consistent with any applicable FDA Emergency Use Authorization:
    • Order or authorize all CLIA categories of COVID-19 tests outside a licensed health facility under the facility’s policies and procedures and without a facility administrator’s agreement;
    • Perform and interpret the results of all waived COVID-19 tests without coordinating with a patient’s primary care provider or diagnosing prescriber; and
    • Physically collect specimens to perform all categories of COVID-19 tests.
  • Pharmacy technicians may perform and physically collect specimens necessary for waived COVID-19 tests, as long as (1) the pharmacy technician is competent and trained to perform tests and collect specimens, (2) the specimen is collected and the test performed consistent with any applicable FDA Emergency Use Authorization, and (3) the pharmacy technician is under the direct supervision and control of a supervising pharmacist under Code Section 4115(a).

As we have seen since the DCA began issuing waivers on March 31, 2020, the DCA will likely continue extending and amending its waivers as the pandemic continues. California healthcare providers should continue monitoring and reviewing the DCA waivers page to assist with their COVID-19 response.

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