On March 24, 2020, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Azar sent a letter to governors across the U.S., requesting that they ease provider licensure and supervision requirements and increase liability protections for providers. Reducing provider licensure requirements would allow providers licensed in one state to deliver care to patients in another state without having to be licensed in the state where the patient is located. This would also allow for out-of-state providers to deliver remote care via telehealth. Sec. Azar notes that changing these requirements could be achieved using governors’ emergency powers.
Sec. Azar also asked governors to use their emergency powers to increase the scope of practice for health care providers and to suspend practice restrictions, such as those requiring supervision. He also recommended that the number of non-physician providers that a physician can supervise be increased. To encourage health care providers to embrace an increased scope of licensure, Sec. Azar recommended that states enact tort liability protections to shield providers from medical malpractice claims for care rendered during the public health emergency.