Massachusetts DPH Issues Two Orders To Ensure Continued Availability of Health Care Provider Workforce

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To ensure the continued availability of health care workers, on November 12, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued Order 2021-13 (COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-13), extending licensure reciprocity for certain out-of-state providers to provide services (in person or via telemedicine) to patients in Massachusetts. Order 2021-13 extends prior DPH orders which authorized issuance of temporary licenses for certain health care providers and renewal or reactivation of certain temporary licenses.

Under this order, Massachusetts will continue to recognize health care licensure in certain professions from other states until June 30, 2022. Order 2021-13 applies to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, perfusionists, and emergency medical technicians licensed in another state, and allows them to obtain a corresponding license to practice in Massachusetts until June 30, 2022, provided the health care provider’s license is in good standing in such other state and the health care provider practices within the scope of practice authorized by the license in such profession, whether in Massachusetts or across state lines using telemedicine. Notably, the term “license” as used in Order 2021-13 includes a license, registration, certification, or authorization, and a license “in good standing” includes those subject to probation or non-disciplinary conditions, and excludes licenses which have been revoked, cancelled, surrendered, suspended, or subject to disciplinary restrictions.

In addition, Order 2021-13 continues to permit health care providers in the professions listed above to request to have their Massachusetts license to practice renewed or reactivated if the health care provider held the license within the last ten years and the license has not otherwise been revoked, suspended, surrendered, or subject to non-disciplinary restriction. To avail themselves of such license renewal or reactivation, the health care provider need not complete continuing education or other reactivation requirement, nor will they be required to pay any applicable renewal fee.

The licenses of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, perfusionists, emergency medical technicians, as well as the licenses of social workers and psychologists granted under prior orders are to remain valid under Order 2021-13 until June 30, 2022.

Also on November 12, 2021, the DPH issued Order 2021-12 (COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-12) requiring the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (Board) to immediately adopt a policy providing for expedited licensure of physicians graduated from an International Medical School and currently practicing in the U.S. under a limited license. To be eligible for expedited licensure (and subject to Board review and approval), the graduate must have completed at least an approved two year post-graduate medical training program or an accredited Canadian program. Order 2021-12 directs the Board to issue guidance to implement the foregoing policy, and any applicable statute or regulation of the Board which is not inconsistent with this Order remains in effect.

Under both Orders, an applicable licensing board or authority is obligated to notify DPH in the event special concerns render applicability of the Orders contrary to the public interest.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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