Update: California Temporarily Amends NP Supervision Requirements to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

May 7, 2020

In March 2019, ByrdAdatto wrote an article entitled, “Is Independent Practice For NP’s Coming to California?” which discussed the most recent bill introduced in California that, if passed, would allow nurse practitioners (“NPs”) to practice without the need for physician supervision. You can review the text of House Bill 890 (“Bill”) in full here.

If you’ve been following California NPs’ years-long fight for a seat at the exam table without needing a chaperone, then you know they’ve been unsuccessfully lobbying the California legislature for years to grant NPs independent practice authority. As of the date of this article, the Bill has been slowly making the rounds in committees and has not yet been passed.

However, over a year after the Bill was introduced, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a rare opportunity for California NPs to possess the autonomy to practice without the need for physician supervision and to make a difference in the lives of Californians impacted by the pandemic.

In March 2020, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“Secretary”) urged U.S. governors to take immediate action to extend the capacity of its health care workforce to address the pandemic by, to the extent possible, waiving and/or amending certain statutory and regulatory standards and temporarily suspending certain scopes of practice requirements, including any requirements for written supervision or collaboration agreements, so that qualified and capable health care providers are available to provide necessary medical assistance to Americans impacted by COVID-19. You can review the text of the Secretary’s Letter to States Licensing Waivers in full here.

Several days later, California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an Executive Order empowering the Director of the Department Consumer Affairs (“Director”), California’s professional licensing authority, to waive and/or amend certain statutory and regulatory standards for its licensees to the extent necessary and only for the duration of the declared emergency. You can review the text of Executive Order N-39-20 in full here.

Although the Director moved to expand allowable activities for certain health care professionals, it stopped short of suspending any requirements for written supervision or collaboration agreements for NPs. Instead it temporarily lifted the cap on the number of NPs California physicians and surgeons may supervise. You can review the text of the Order Waiving Nurse Practitioner Supervision Requirements in full here (“Order”). The Order became effective April 14, 2020, and will terminate June 13, 2020, unless it amended as circumstances require or further extended.

We will keep an eye on the Order and provide updates where necessary. For more information on independent NP practice in California and other states, Access+ members can read the article entitled, NP Autonomy Fiction or Non-Fiction? — The anatomy of actual independence, in the Welcome to the Family! newsletter on the Access+ portal, or contact ByrdAdatto at info@byrdadatto.com.

ByrdAdatto attorney Patrick O'Brien

Patrick O’Brien

Patrick O'Brien focuses on state and federal health care laws and regulations, and legislative developments primarily for the aesthetic industry.