Executive Order 03.20.20.02
On March 20, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 03.20.20.02 (“March 20th Order”) to ease regulatory hurdles in the fight against the outbreak of COVID-19.
The March 20th Order includes several authorizations and directives, which include, but are not limited to the following:
- A requirement that the Georgia Composite Medical Board immediately adopt emergency rules for telemedicine licenses;
- Permission for licensed pharmacists to dispense early refills of prescription drugs (other than Schedule II controlled substances);
- Consent for the Georgia Board of Pharmacy to grant temporary licenses to pharmacists who are in good standing in another state;
- Authority for licensed Georgia pharmacists to dispense a 90-day supply of prescription medications to patients who have no remaining refills when the pharmacist is unable to contact the prescribing practitioner. (Note: this authorization may only be used once per prescription and does not apply to Schedule II controlled substances);
- Suspension of enforcement of O.C.G.A. § 43-34-106, which requires physicians and other providers to post notice of the use of physician assistants;
- An authorization and directive to the Georgia Department of Community Health to suspend O.C.G.A. § 31-2-7, relating to Department rules and regulations, to the extent that such suspension will reduce the administrative burden on healthcare facilities in responding to the public emergency created by the outbreak of COVID-19;
- An authorization and directive to the Georgia Department of Community Health to suspend O.C.G.A. § 31-6-40, relating to Certificates of Need requirements, where such suspensions are necessary to expand capacity, offer services or make expenditures to combat the state of emergency;
- An authorization and directive to the Commissioner of the Department of Community Health to implement waivers of rules and regulations that prevent, hinder or delay action necessary to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19; and
- An authorization and directive to the Department of Community Health to require reports from healthcare facilities and providers with respect to actions taken to assist, aid or cope with the outbreak of COVID-19. Reports are to be initially submitted on an as-needed basis, with final reports submitted after the end of the public emergency.
While the March 20th Order provides for accommodations necessary to address immediate needs created by the COVID-19 public health crisis, it does not give healthcare facilities and other providers broad authorization to expand their operations at will. For example, the suspension of certain certificate of need requirements is not an avenue for health care facilities and providers to bypass authorization from the Department of Community Health for projects unrelated to the crisis.
At of the date of this publication, the Georgia Department of Community Health, the Georgia Composite Medical Board and the Georgia Board of Pharmacy have not issued further information or guidance with respect to the March 20th Order. We will update this document as the departments and boards take further action to implement the directives of the March 20th Order.
Executive Order 03.23.20.02
On March 23, 2020, the Governor issued another Executive Order to increase the availability of physicians to fight the pandemic. Executive Order 03.23.20.02 (“March 23rd Order”) suspends laws and regulations prohibiting the practice of medicine without a valid medical license. The suspension applies to licenses that have lapsed or expired within five (5) years from the date of the March 23rd Order, were not subject to investigation and have no history of adverse action. The suspension is limited to the treatment of individuals suffering from the recognized public emergency.
The March 23rd Order also permits the Georgia Board of Nursing to issue temporary licenses to graduate nursing students and graduate practical nursing students who have not yet taken licensing exams to provide care to those suffering from COVID-19. Nursing students granted these temporary licenses must work under the direction and supervision of a licensed registered nurse or licensed practical nurse.