By: Susan St. John
Earlier today, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-144 extending the State of Emergency declare in Executive Order 20-52 for another 60 days. Pursuant to the extension of Executive Order 20-52, the State Surgeon General’s Order 20-003 is also extended another 60 days as its expiration is tied to the expiration of Executive Order 20-52. Thus, telehealth providers from other states with valid and unencumbered licenses may continue to provide telehealth services to persons in Florida without registering with the Department of Health. Telehealth services must still be provided using two-way audio and video communications. Audio-only telephone calls are not permitted under Florida’s existing telehealth statute and have not been waived or suspended via the State Surgeon General’s Orders.
One thing that is not entirely clear pursuant to the extension of Executive Order 20-52 and Emergency Order 20-003 is whether controlled substances for non-malignant pain may still be prescribed by a controlled substance prescribing practitioner using telehealth communications for refill purposes for existing patients. Also unclear is whether a qualified physician recommending medical marijuana will be able to recertify an existing qualified and certified patient’s continued use of medical marijuana using telehealth services. However, because the extension of the state of emergency is meant to continue to lessen the exposure rate and keep people healthy, we believe that the extensions under these orders are meant to apply to all of the portions of the telehealth statute waived or suspended under Emergency Order 20-002. Stayed tuned for further updates.