The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has written a memo granting medical professionals working in their capacity as VA employees the ability to practice across state lines. In effect, this memo allows doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and other health care workers to practice in any state, even if they are not licensed there, so long as they are doing so under the auspices of the VA. This measure is intended to help get medical professionals where they are needed, as the country prepares for another wave of COVID-19 infections.
The Demands of COVID-19 on VA Health Care Workers
The 2019 novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has taken a severe toll on health care workers across the country, and sadly, VA health care workers have been no exception to this. Medical facilities run by the VA have been pushed to the breaking point by constant influx of coronavirus cases, and medical workers have needed to take extra precautions to protect themselves from being infected while working with patients. This is especially true in states that have not been able to effectively contain the virus, leading to overworked staff and a lack of resources at some VA facilities.
Why the Memo Was Issued
Under normal circumstances, licensed health care professionals are not allowed to practice medicine in any state where they are not licensed. This means that if they want to go to another state to practice medicine, they must seek certification in the new state, and meet whatever requirements are needed to do so. This is intended to ensure all licensed medical professionals meet the minimum standards expected of someone of their profession, both in terms of their competence and their adherence to medical ethics.
The directive in this memo circumvents this normal requirement by allowing medical professionals in the VA system to practice medicine in any state, regardless of whether they are licensed in that state or whether they would normally meet the legal requirements to practice in that state. However, this exception only applies to medical professionals already working in the VA, who are being moved to VA facilities in other states to address staffing shortfalls. This is meant to make it easier to help facilities where they are short on licensed professionals to assist with caring for patients.
Coronavirus Back on the Rise
Unfortunately, this memo comes at an important time, as rates of COVID-19 infection are skyrocketing across the country. Even states that previously had the spread of the coronavirus under control, such as New York, are now looking at reinstating quarantine procedures to slow the spread of the virus. Thus, now more than ever, it is essential to have trained staff available to take care of veterans, especially those who suffer from long-term disabilities that may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. With this new directive, the VA is making sure that every medical facility they oversee has the personnel they need to handle the coronavirus and ensure patients are properly taken care of.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.