Mandatory Disqualification for Health License Because of Criminal Conviction? There May Still Be Hope

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
By Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm

In 2009 the Florida Legislature passed a bill imposing severe restrictions on the professional boards regulating health care practitioners in Florida.  These include the Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing, Board of Dentistry, Board of Massage Therapy, Board of Osteopathic Medicine, Board of Psychology and Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, among all others.  These draconian measures were implemented in a supposed crackdown on healthcare fraud.  Unfortunately, the approach taken by the legislature had several unintended consequences.

As originally enacted there was a mandatory 15-year bar to receive a new or renewed license to practice in Florida after serving the sentence on certain listed felonies.  Section 456.0635, Florida Statutes, applied to applicants and licensees of the boards of Medicine, Pharmacy, Osteopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, Dentistry, Nursing, Acupuncture among others.

After much public outcry and push-back from the various professional Boards, the legislature amended the statute in 2012 to create a tiered system whereby some offenses resulted in less than a 15-year ban.  Although the amended law is somewhat softer in its terms, it nonetheless excludes many people from renewing or obtaining a license to practice their chosen profession.

Perhaps the most important change to Section 456.0635, Florida Statutes, was the addition of the following unnumbered paragraph in the law:

This subsection does not apply to candidates or applicants for initial licensure or certification who were enrolled in an educational or training program on or before July 1, 2009, which was recognized by a board or, if there is no board, recognized by the department [of health], and who applied for licensure after July 1, 2012.

This language in the recent amendment provides a "loophole" that allows many to obtain their licenses or to renew their licenses, despite a conviction.


What Does This All Mean?

The paragraph quoted above has been interpreted by the various Florida professional licensing boards to mean that if you enrolled or completed your educational training on or before July 1, 2009, and have applied for a "new" license after July 1, 2012, the mandatory statutory bar does not apply to you.

This is potentially great news for many people.  So long as you were enrolled in or graduated from school prior to July 1, 2009, and are applying for licensure after July 1, 2012, the regulating professional board is free to consider your case and use its discretion in choosing whether to grant or deny your license.

A less obvious class of individuals that are benefitted by this exception are those who were enrolled in or graduated from school prior to July 1, 2009, and were licensed sometime after but were subsequently denied renewal of their license due to criminal history resulting in a mandatory exclusion.

As the boards have interpreted this statutory provision, a licensee in the above situation who has been denied renewal of his or her license can apply for an entirely new license and not be subject to the mandatory bar.


What To Do If You Think This Exception Applies to You.


First, it is crucial to note that just because the mandatory bar may not apply, does not mean that the licensing board is obligated to grant a license.

All that the exception does for an applicant is to permit her an opportunity to go before the board and demonstrate why a license should be issued.  The board still can (and most likely will) consider an applicant's criminal history in deciding whether to issue a license.

It is highly recommended that any applicant appearing before a board retain an experienced healthcare attorney to assist with the application and presentation process.

You will only have one opportunity to make your case before the board.  Therefore, it is extremely important that documentation of fitness to practice is presented in a clear and effective manner.  Furthermore, nearly every professional board will require the applicant to appear in person and submit to questioning.  An experienced attorney is indispensable in preparing you for an appearance before the board.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all healthcare providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal hearings and in representing healthcare professionals and providers in investigations and at Florida Board of Medicine, Pharmacy, Osteopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, Dentistry, Nursing, Acupuncture and others  hearings.  Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with 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 Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.


Tag Words: regulating healthcare professionals, healthcare fraud, disqualification of license, Board of Medicine, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Osteopathic Medicine, Board of Massage Therapy, Board of Dentistry, Board of Nursing, Board of Acupuncture, applying for a new license, renewing a license, exclusion, mandatory exclusion, licensing board, criminal history, applying for license with criminal history, defense attorney, defense lawyer, healthcare attorney, healthcare lawyer, health law firm, The Health Law Firm

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3/5/2014

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