PA Department of State Cautions on Impact if Emergency Disaster Declaration Ends

The Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS), under which the health and other professional licensure boards fall, says it has received many questions from licensed professionals about what happens to the licensing waivers if the COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration is ended. DOS has issued nearly 100 temporary waivers under authority granted by the Governor’s declaration of a disaster emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. The goal with these waivers was to respond to the extraordinary circumstances of the last year by allowing licensees to continue practicing or training in their professions. DOS accomplished this by temporarily eliminating several administrative barriers, such as allowing for online distance learning to qualify for continuing education credits, extending licensing renewal deadlines and permitting additional medical professionals to participate in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Per DOS, when the disaster declaration ends, the authority to grant these waivers will expire and they will no longer be in effect. For example, if you are a medical practitioner using telemedicine for patient appointments, you may not be able to continue that practice when the temporary waiver no longer exists. Or, if you are a dentist, podiatrist or respiratory therapist who has been given authority to administer COVID-19 vaccines under the DOS waivers, that authority will expire, and you will no longer be able to assist in the vaccination effort. With Gov. Wolf’s renewal yesterday of the disaster declaration, all waivers currently remain in effect.