Hundreds of Georgia health providers are without a professional license to practice, because a new immigration law is causing massive backups in paperwork, according to a number of sources. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 or House Bill 87 went into effect on January 1, 2012, and requires every person to prove his or her citizenship or legal residency when the individual renews his or her license.
With all of the extra paperwork required and too few staff members at the reviewing state agencies, many licenses are expiring before they can be renewed. Shortages of staff are being reported at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and Georgia’s Medical Board. Licenses being affected include licenses for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health providers are falling through the cracks and expiring. According to a Kaiser Health News story released November 12, 2012, there’s not much that can be done to speed up the process.
Requirements are Confusing to Professionals.
Georgia House Bill 87 was aimed at blocking illegal immigrants from getting benefits but instead has created lots of confusion, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For example, when people are confused about the requirements and fail to not submit copies of acceptable identification, then their professional licenses expire and they are not legally allowed to practice.
It is reported that some individuals, instead of forwarding copies of photo identification, are sending photos of animals or pornography into the state’s online system. Officials believe this is either a form of protest or a joke, either way it slows down the review process.
Providers Be Aware of Medicare Conditions of Participation.
Providers need to be forewarned that if their licenses are expired Medicare conditions of participation (COPs) prohibit billing for services provided. If a service was provided while the license was expired, be prepared to refund the overpayments.
Lengthy Processing Time Has Caused More Than 1,000 Health Professionals to Lose Their Ability to Practice.
Last year, the secretary of state’s office received more than 49,000 new applications for licenses and since 2008 the state licensing division has lost almost 40 staff members.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the average time it takes for the state to process new license applications has jumped from 60 days to 70 days. The same goes for renewal applications. It used to take two days to renew a license, but now it takes 10 days.
According to Kaiser Health News, it’s estimated that 1,300 doctors, nurses and other health professionals have lost their ability to work either because they did not send in the correct paperwork, or they are stuck in the backlog of work.
The same article stated so far the new document requirements have yet to find any illegal immigrants.
Health Professionals Encouraged to Renew Licenses A.S.A.P.
The Georgia Nursing Association and the Georgia Pharmacy Association are monitoring this situation closely. The pharmacy association has been informing members about the new identification requirements and urging them to not put off applying for their licences.
Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.
If you have had a license suspended or revoked, or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues all over the country.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
As a health professional what do you think about this new law in Georgia? Do you think it is ridiculous or a necessary process? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Burress, Jim. “Doctors’ And Nurses’ Licenses Snagged By New Immigration Law In Georgia.” Kaiser Health News, WABE, Atlanta and NPR. (November 12, 2012). From: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2012/November/12/Georgia-immigration.aspx
Redmon, Jeremy. “New ID Law Gums Up Licensing Process.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (October 15, 2012). From: ttp://www.ajc.com/news/news/new-id-law-gums-up-licensing-process/nSc6g/
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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