Hurricane Ian Physician Resources
By Mary Thomas, Esq., FMA Assistant General Counsel | Oct. 4, 2022
As Florida endures the impact of Hurricane Ian, the FMA hopes you and your loved ones remain safe during this frightening and extremely disruptive time for millions of Floridians. We will provide our members with updates on hurricane-related developments affecting physicians as new information emerges. In the meantime, please review these resources:
Executive Office of the Governor
On Sept. 23, 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 22-218 declaring a State of Emergency for 24 counties. This was later expanded statewide by Executive Order 22-219. The declared state of emergency makes available certain funding sources for the state to utilize in response to a natural disaster and grants state agencies the authority to suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute, order, or rule, if strict compliance with said provisions would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency.
Further, EO 22-218 allows out-of-state licensed medical professionals, social workers, and counselors with valid professional licenses in good standing to render services in Florida during this emergency for persons affected by this emergency with the condition that such services be rendered free of charge, and under the auspices of the American Red Cross or the Florida Department of Health.
For a comprehensive overview of state agency actions, please see State Agency Preparation and Response Efforts as released by the Executive Office of the Governor.
Department of Health
The Department of Health and Office of Insurance Regulation issued a notice reminding all health insurers, managed care organizations, and other health entities of their coverage obligations under Section 252.358, Florida Statutes, which allows patients to refill prescriptions in advance, if there are authorized refills remaining, and authorizes payment to pharmacies for at least a 30-day supply of any prescription medication, regardless of the date upon which the prescription had most recently been filled by a pharmacist.
EO 22-218 also triggers the provisions of Section 465.0275, Florida Statutes, which authorizes pharmacists to dispense up to a 30-day supply of medication to patients in the affected areas or counties, provided that:
- The prescription is not for Schedule II controlled substance.
- The medication is essential to the maintenance of life or to the continuation of therapy in a chronic condition.
- In the pharmacist’s professional judgment, the interruption of therapy might reasonably produce undesirable health consequences or may cause physical or mental discomfort.
- The dispensing pharmacist creates a written order containing all of the prescription information required by this chapter and chapters 499 and 893 and signs that order.
- The dispensing pharmacist notifies the prescriber of the emergency dispensing within a reasonable time after such dispensing.
As a reminder, per Section 893.055, Florida Statutes, prescribers are not required to consult the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) system when the system is nonoperational or cannot be accessed by the prescriber or dispenser or a designee of the prescriber or dispenser because of a temporary technological or electrical failure.
In response to the declared state of emergency, the State Surgeon General has released the following Emergency Orders:
Emergency Order 22-004
Waiver of State Licensure Requirements
- Effective September 28 - Florida licensure requirements are waived for 30 days for the following out-of-state providers that hold valid and professional licenses:
- Allopathic and Osteopathic Physicians
- Physician Assistants
- Advance Practice Registered Nurses, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Certified Nursing Assistants
- Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians
Waiver of Telehealth Registration Requirement
- Effective September 28 – Florida telehealth registration requirements are waived for 30 days for the following out-of-state providers that hold valid and professional licenses:
- Allopathic and Osteopathic Physicians
- Physician Assistants
- Advance Practice Registered Nurses
The waiver of these licensure requirements is not contingent upon providing uncompensated care.
Emergency Order 22-003
- Waives law which limits pharmacies and prescription department managers from operating in multiple or mobile locations for the duration of the declared State of Emergency.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Reporting Extension
- Extends the reporting deadline for dispensers to report controlled substance prescription data in the PDMP from one business day to up to 30 days.
Emergency Order 22-002
Suspends Section 401.25(1)(d), Florida Statutes and Rules 64J-1.002(2)(b) and 64J-1.003(6)(c), F.A.C., which require licensed basic life support service providers, licensed advanced life support service providers, and licensed air ambulance services to obtain a certificate of public convenience from each county in which they operate.
For more information, please see the Department’s Emergency Information website, which provides a host of resources.
Agency for Health Care Administration
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) sent out the following Florida Medicaid Health Care Alert waiving all prior authorization requirements for critical Medicaid services effective Sept. 27, authorizing providers to furnish critical Medicaid services beyond limits stated in policy in order to maintain safety and health, and postponing all Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR).
Additional actions to note:
Additional information is provided on AHCA’s Emergency Preparedness Resources and Hurricane Ian Information websites.
Office of Insurance Regulation
- AHCA has activated the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS). Special Needs Shelters for 16 counties can utilize the system to retrieve patient medical records. E-PLUS is also available to assist medical providers and emergency response personnel with locating missing or displaced persons after the storm.
- AHCA is requiring health providers to update the Health Facility Reporting System by 10 a.m. daily to ensure each facility is taking the appropriate precautions to ensure patient safety.
On September 28, the Office of Insurance Regulation issued an Emergency Order ordering an extension of grace periods and the temporary postponement of cancellations or non-renewals for property and casualty insurance policies from September 28 to November 28, 2022. The Emergency Order will also protect homeowners who suffered damage from Hurricane Ian by prohibiting insurers from canceling or non-renewing policies for at least 90 days after the damaged structure is repaired.
Department of Economic Opportunity
In order to expedite reemployment assistance, on October 1, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced a waiver of work search reporting and additional reemployment assistance requirements for impacted Floridians in FEMA disaster-declared counties.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is also available to Florida businesses and residents in FEMA disaster-declared counties whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted by Hurricane Ian and are not eligible for regular state or Federal Reemployment Assistance Benefits. Please click here to read the full announcement and eligibility requirements.
DEO has activated the private sector hotline at 850-815-4925 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Inquiries may also be emailed to ESF18@em.myflorida.com.