If you have ever been the recipient of a Florida state agency’s (i.e. Department of Health, AHCA, etc.) notice regarding an adverse action, such as a Notice of Intent to Deny, licensure application, renewal or change of ownership, you probably received an Election of Rights form along with the agency’s notice. The Election of Rights form must be completed and returned to the agency within 21 days of receiving the agency’s notice. In completing the Election of Rights form, you are given three options to choose from in deciding how you want to respond to the agency’s notice.
Under Option One you admit to the allegations of facts and law contained in the agency’s notice of intended action and waive the right to object and have a hearing. This is akin to an admission of guilt, that the agency is right in its decision, and you agree to a final order that supports the agency’s actions, including imposition of fines and punishment against you. Option One is generally not in your best interest.
A new law passed by the Florida Legislature shaves off some of the sharp edges of Florida law that applies to physicians who are impaired by substance abuse or mental illness. The hub of treatment referenced in the law is the Impaired Practitioner Program (IPP). Over the years, the IPP (a quasi-governmental entity) has come under fire for being too aggressive in how it deals with impaired physicians, by acting more like law enforcement than a healthcare provider. Allegations in the past include physicians feeling “hauled off” to treatment before the demonstrated need was clear and being directed to providers that were expensive or inconvenient with reasonable alternatives exist.
The new law rounds out the IPP operations in creating additional accountability through the appointment by the Department of Health (DOH) of one or more consultants. It also:
allows certain providers to report an impaired practitioner to a consultant instead of the DOH. Some in the program felt they were being leveraged into cooperating when they felt it was counter-indicated. This measure might help balance the issues by interposing an independent consultant that is not under the IPP;
prevents the consultant from reporting to DOH a practitioner who is self referring for treatment, but keeps intact features of accountability to help ensure the practitioner completes treatment;
requires the consultant to copy the patient and any legal representative on any information release; and
protects the consultant by extending sovereign immunity to him/her.
Healthcare professionals interacting with the IPP need to know their rights and options. The new law helps facilitate that.
A physician entering medical practice in the State of Florida can obtain a State Medical License by either examination or endorsement. However, to qualify for either avenue to licensure, the physician must be at least 21 years of age, be determined by the Florida Board of Medicine (the “Board”) to be of good moral character, and must not have committed any other act or offense that the Board has determined would constitute the basis for discipline here in Florida. Moreover, the physician applicant must have graduated from a qualified medical school and completed residency training. If the physician applicant attended medical school outside of the United States, the physician applicant must demonstrate competency in the English language to the satisfaction of the Board. Finally, the physician applicant must submit fingerprints and submit to a criminal background check. Once this criteria is satisfied, the physician applicant may pursue licensure by either examination or endorsement.
Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.