Actions Taken By the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency in Response to COVID-19 and What This Means for Licensed Professionals

By: Jennifer L. Strange

On March 6, 2020, Governor Eric Holcomb issued an Executive Order, declaring a public health emergency exists throughout the State of Indiana as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.  Since that time, Governor Holcomb has issued several Executive Orders to address and respond to the public health emergency in an effort to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Hoosiers in connection with the continuing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19.

The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (“IPLA”), which is responsible for the licensing or certification of professionals in the State of Indiana, has taken action to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and comply with the Governor’s Executive Orders.  Like other State agencies, the majority of the IPLA’s staff is working remotely and there is no public access to the IPLA offices.  During these unprecedented times, email is the best way to communicate with IPLA staff though you can expect disruptions or delays in responses to inquiries or requests.    

Here are some of the significant changes taken by Governor Holcomb and the IPLA that will impact licensed professionals (this includes both agency-wide changes and profession-specific changes):

  • Licensure tests/testing centers have been temporarily suspended
  • All licenses or certifications which have expired during, or are set to expire during, this public health emergency shall be extended automatically to May 22, 2020 (this extension does not suspend or change any other renewal requirements)
  • All scheduled Board or Committee meetings have been cancelled through April and future Board or Committee meetings will be limited to only essential functions (this will likely impact meetings and hearings over the next few months)
  • Open Door Laws have been temporarily suspended to allow quorums of Boards and Committees to be achieved via videoconference or teleconference
  • Non-emergency status fingerprinting has been temporarily suspended by the Indiana Department of Administration (only the following applicants whose license has been deemed as emergency status can obtain fingerprinting: Nursing, Medical, Physician Assistants, Pharmacy, Psychology, Behavioral Health, and Respiratory Care)
  • Suspension of the requirement that a health care provider hold an Indiana license if he or she: (1) has an equivalent license from another State, and (2) is not suspended or barred from practice in that State or any State (so a nurse licensed in Kentucky could practice in Indiana without first obtaining an Indiana license so long as that nurse’s Kentucky license is not suspended or barred)
  • Mental health professionals are permitted to practice via telemedicine (but all statutes and rules that are applicable during remote practice must still be observed)
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are permitted to provide services in multiple locations while under a single written collaboration agreement
  • Suspension of the requirement of a 1:6 ratio of pharmacist to pharmacy technician and authorize a ratio of 1:8
  • For non-controlled substances prescribed as maintenance medications, suspension of the restriction on a refill being limited to no more than the quantity on the most recent refill or a 30-day supply, whichever is less, and permit a one-time 90-day emergency refill
  • Permit opioid prescribing via telemedicine only for those patients who are already established on maintenance therapy with opioids for chronic, not acute, conditions, provided: (1) the prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of their professional practice; (2) the telemedicine communication is conducted using an audio-visual, real-time, two-way interactive communication system; and (3) all other applicable federal and State laws are followed

The current public health crisis is a fluid situation and we will likely see more changes in the coming weeks as the situation progresses.  The IPLA is updating its website as changes occur.  For more information, click here.

Further, you can find Governor Holcomb’s Executive Orders here.