COVID-19 Telemedicine/Telehealth Services Permitted in New Jersey for Out-of-State Practitioners

March 20, 2020
Brittany A. Bonetti, Esq.  | Jill T. Ojserkis, Esq., LL.M.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed emergency legislation paving the way for New Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affair to waive numerous regulatory requirements for out-of-state practitioners to become licensed in New Jersey and offer services to New Jersey residents, including telemedicine and telehealth services. The waivers will apply during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Additionally, the Governor signed legislation under which out-of-state practitioners may provide certain telehealth and telemedicine services during the State’s COVID-19 public health emergency without obtaining a New Jersey license.

Accelerated Temporary Licensure

Under the accelerated temporary licensure process, individuals who hold current health care licenses and certifications in good standing in other jurisdictions, and have been practicing within the last five years, will be able to quickly secure New Jersey licenses by completing a one-page form, which should be sent to NJTempLicense@dca.njoag.gov. Criminal history background checks, licensing fees, and submission of proof of a sufficient amount of medical malpractice insurance (where applicable) are waived. The Division of Consumer Affairs intends to grant applications within hours of receiving the form and eligible practitioners will be deemed licensed upon submission of a completed form. The temporary licenses will be valid for 180 days, with an additional 180-day extension available upon written request. Issuance of the temporary license is not limited to COVID-19 related services. Those practicing under a temporary license must still comply with all applicable New Jersey statutes and regulations, including New Jersey telemedicine and telehealth laws and regulations.

Telemedicine/Telehealth

Without obtaining a New Jersey license, out-of-state practitioners may  provide  telemedicine and telehealth services  related  to screening for, diagnosing, or treating COVID-19. With the adoption of the emergency telemedicine/telehealth legislation, a health care practitioner who is not licensed or certified to provide health care  services  within New Jersey may provide and bill for telemedicine and telehealth services if: (1) the health care practitioner is validly licensed or  certified  to provide health care services  in  another state or territory of the or in the District of Columbia, and is in good standing in the jurisdiction that issued the license or certification; (2) the health care services provided by the health care practitioner  using  telemedicine and telehealth are within the practitioner’s authorized scope of practice in the jurisdiction that issued the license or certification; (3) unless the health care practitioner has a preexisting provider-patient relationship with the patient that is unrelated to COVID-19, the health care services provided are limited  to services related to screening for, diagnosing, or treating COVID-19; and (4) in the event that the health care practitioner determines during a telemedicine or telehealth encounter with a patient located in New Jersey that the encounter will not involve services related to screening for, diagnosing, or  treating COVID-19, and the practitioner does not have a  preexisting provider-patient relationship with the patient that is unrelated to COVID-19, the practitioner shall advise the patient that the practitioner is not authorized to provide services to the patient, recommend that the patient initiate a new telemedicine or telehealth encounter with  a health care practitioner licensed or certified to practice in New Jersey, and terminate the telemedicine or telehealth encounter. The legislation suggests that an out-of-state practitioner may provide telemedicine and telehealth services  related  to COVID-19 even if he or she has not established a traditional provider-patient relationship. The legislation does not enumerate a waiver of the provider-patient relationship for in-state practitioners rendering telemedicine or telehealth services.

The amount charged for telemedicine and telehealth services must be reasonable and consistent with the ordinary fees typically charged for that service. The practitioner cannot bill if he or she terminates a telemedicine or telehealth encounter because the encounter does not involve the provision of services related to screening, diagnosing, or treating COVID-19. Health care practitioners using telemedicine or telehealth modalities are subject to the same standard of care or practice standards as are applicable to in-person settings.

The legislation requires the Commissioner of Health and the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety to waive any requirement of State law or regulation as may be necessary to facilitate the provision of health care services using telemedicine and telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including any privacy requirements that would  limit the use of electronic or technological means that are not typically used in the provision of telemedicine and telehealth. The legislation does not  authorize the waiver of any State laws or regulations restricting the collection, exchange,  transmission, or use of confidential patient health information.