COVID-19 Occupational Licensure Policy Responses
While occupational licensing regulations provide certain public health and safety safeguards, the increased health care demands imposed by COVID-19 have compelled states to evaluate which regulations may impede response efforts.
In response, states have implemented executive orders/proclamations, legislation and administrative rulings that temporarily amend certain regulations to increase the supply of health care workers, lessen administrative burdens and comply with social distancing measures.
While many of these actions were made during the onset of the COVID-19 state of emergency and exist only temporarily, states may consider additional policy actions that may be needed in the event of subsequent rises in COVID-19 cases and future health emergencies.
The following information presents a collection of state actions, categorized by policy themes and types, to assist states with developing response plans.
The key themes addressed by states in their occupational licensing policy actions related to COVID-19 primarily fall under two categories – workforce shortages and licensing attainment/maintenance burdens.
In order to meet the current healthcare workforce demands related to COVID-19, states are altering certain licensing restrictions to allow more qualified practitioners to provide services. Practitioners licensed in another jurisdiction, those with lapsed licenses, retired practitioners or those currently in training may be provided expedited or temporary licensure. Some states are also implementing measures to allow those previously licensed or trained in another country to practice under certain conditions. Additionally, interstate compacts provide an existing process for certain licensed workers to practice in other compact states.
Reducing Licensure Requirement Burdens
Meeting the requirements related to the attainment or maintenance of licensing may be impeded by travel restrictions or interruptions in government and business operations. Further, states may wish to limit the physical contact that may be necessary for licensees to meet certain requirements. States are therefore modifying, suspending or waiving licensing regulations, such as continuing education and renewal requirements, to not penalize licensed practitioners, particularly those who are needed for COVID-19 response operations.
Types of Policy Actions
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, states have taken measures to alleviate the occupational licensure policy burdens that impede state response efforts and which are counterintuitive to social distancing practices. The following information presents a collection of state actions, categorized by policy themes and types, to assist states with developing response plans.