Scenario: Psychologist, licensed mental health counselor, or other mental health professional has a license in State 1 where he or she lives and practices and also in State 2. A complaint is filed with the Department of Health, Professional Board, or other licensing authority in State 1.
Rather than incur the legal expenses involved in defending against the complaint in State 1, psychologist, LMHC, or other professional moves to State 2, begins practicing there and voluntarily relinquishes his/her license in State 1.
Unfortunately, in most cases, this is a terrible mistake.
The voluntary relinquishment of the professional license in State 1, while there is a pending complaint, investigation or disciplinary action, will be treated the same as a revocation of the license for disciplinary purposes.
Following are some of the adverse consequences that will follow:
1. State 1 will maintain this action and report it as a disciplinary action. You may not be informed in advance of this fact.
2. The health professional will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Since the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB) was combined into the NPDB, this now includes nurses, psychologists and even facilities.
3. The action will be reported to State 2. State 2 will then commence disciplinary action.
4. In almost all cases, the office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will begin action to exclude the professional from the Medicare Program. In almost all cases, unless aggressively fought and successfully defended, this will result in the professional’s being excluded from the Medicare Program and placed on the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LIEI). You will not be allowed to work for or contract with (in any capacity) any Medicare provider including physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs).
5. If excluded from the Medicare Program and placed on the LIEI, this automatically places the professional on the General Services Administration (GSA) list of persons debarred from contracting with the U.S. government. If on the debarment list, you are not allowed to work for or contract with the federal government or to be a contractor of, owner of, officer of or employee of any person or organization that does contract with the U.S. government. This means, for example, you could not be employed as a construction worker for a company that has government contracts. This also means, for example, you cannot work for a realtor who arranges for government underwritten or guaranteed loans on real estate.
6. If you have a DEA number, most likely the DEA will act to revoke your DEA number.
7. If you have clinical privileges at a hospital or ambulatory surgical center (ASC) you will most probably have these revoked.
8. If you are on the provider panel of any insurance company, it is most likely that you will have your participation terminated by the insurance company.
9. Because of the NPDB report, if you apply for a health professional license in another state, or if you apply for hospital privileges, the report will be provided to the state or hospital and you will most probably have your application denied.
10. If you are a participant as a Medicaid provider in a state’s Medicaid Program, this will be terminated.
11. You will be prohibited from joining or participating as a health care professional in the U.S. military services, the U.S. Public Health Service, or in any federal health care program such as CHAMPUS/TRICARE.
In addition to the above, there are other possible consequences that will come to light only after it is too late to do anything about it.
That is why we urge you to think long and hard before you voluntarily relinquish your license if any complaint has been filed against you or if any investigation has been opened against you. This applies to licenses you may have in other states or which are no longer active.
An investigator or government official may attempt to convince you that it is “in your best interest” to voluntarily relinquish your license. It is not. An investigator or government official may attempt to convince you “it will go easier for you” if you voluntarily give up your professional license. This also is not true. All you are doing is allowing the same effects as a disciplinary revocation to occur without requiring the state to investigate the matter or provide you any due process rights to which you are entitled. You are just making it quick, easy and cheap for the government to take disciplinary action against you, which you are then not even able to appeal.
Consult an Experienced Health Law Attorney.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in dealing with DOH investigators, AHCA surveyors, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, FBI agents, police and sheriff’s office investigators, OIG special agents (S/As) and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigators. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
About the Author: Danielle M. Murray 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
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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