COVID-19 State of Emergency Expires in TN: What This Means for PhysiciansNovember 23, 2021
Nashville, TN – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced on November 19, 2021 that he was allowing his executive order declaring a COVID-19 state of emergency in Tennessee to expire. For the past 20 months, the COVID-19 state of emergency has allowed the governor to suspend state laws and regulations needed to ease the impact of the pandemic and keep citizens safe. In his announcement, Governor Lee emphasized that if there should be a future spike in cases, he would reinstitute the state of emergency, if needed. What does this mean for physicians?
Not much. Many of the original provisions had been allowed to expire leaving few left that had direct impact on physicians when the state of emergency expired. For example, an order suspending required physician chart review of APRN and PA charts was never renewed in Spring of 2020 due to TMA’s advocacy. A provision allowing pain management clinic prescribers to prescribe maintenance medication expired in May of this year.
Most of the remaining provisions of gubernatorial executive emergency orders addressed facilities. Among them, the following relaxed laws and rules have now expired:
- The Commissioner of Health had the authority to grant a license to a health care professional who had been out of practice for a period of time without requiring that individual to demonstrate continued competency or submit to an interview before a licensing board.
- Authorized professionals licensed under Title 63 or Title 68, Chapter 140, to perform tasks outside of their scope of practice if such tasks were performed in a hospital or inpatient psychiatric facility and pursuant to a facility-specific, COVID-19-related plan of delegation that had been submitted by the facility's chief medical officer and approved by the Commissioner of Health.
- Allowed some students enrolled in graduate programs to perform tasks under supervision that were under the scope of practice of a licensed health care professional pursuant to a facility-specific, COVID-19-related plan of delegation that had been submitted by the facility's chief medical and jointly approved by the Commissioner of Health or the Commissioner's designee and the Commissioner of Health.
- Allowed telephone assessments for involuntary commitment cases if the mandatory pre-screening agent was not reasonably able to conduct an evaluation in-person or via readily available telehealth services.
- Suspended on-site inspections, investigations, and site visits to certain facilities and applicant facilities at the Department of Health’s discretion under certain conditions.