Friday, March 24, 2017

Surrendering a Healthcare or Medical License While Disciplinary Charges Pending Will Get You a Medi-Cal Suspension

When a physician, nurse or any licensed healthcare provider has a state disciplinary proceeding pending, one of the issues that arises is whether they should surrender the license. In order to analyze this issue, one question is whether the person will be working in healthcare in any capacity in the future.

Imagine a case where a licensed physician or nurse decides to stop practicing medicine but still wants to work in healthcare businesses and wants to surrender his or her license while an Accusation is pending.  Another example is where the physician or nurse is not using their New York license and ends up on probation in New York due to being on probation in California and decides to surrender the New York license. What happens to their ability to work at a healthcare business that bills government programs?

Under California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 14043.6 if your healthcare license is suspended while an Accusation is pending (or revoked after a hearing), Medi-Cal will automatically put you on a "Suspended and Ineligible" List on the effective date of the suspension or revocation. If the individual is suspended from Medi-Cal, he or she cannot work, own or operate a business that receives Medi-Cal or Medicare funds in any capacity.

I am seeing more frequently people who surrendered their license and and did not understand that this is one of the harsh penalties of surrendering that is not set forth in the surrender agreement. It also seems some attorneys do not tell their clients that this will happen and the person finds out a year or more later of this consequence after they have been working in healthcare.

We have handled a number of cases in getting people reinstated to Medi-Cal in these situations and it is an unpredictable and long process. In one case, the healthcare provider surrendered one license and had another active one that was not surrendered but the suspension went into effect and jeopardized the ability to work in healthcare. In another case, a nurse surrendered a license while an Accusation was pending and then was not able to work at the healthcare business in which he was a part-owner in any capacity.  We have also handled audits for overpayment where a healthcare provider did business with an entity or person suspended under Medi-Cal.

In sum, in analyzing whether it makes sense to surrender any healthcare license in California, the licensee should understand that a surrender will prevent the person from working in any healthcare facility that takes government funds (Medicare and Medi-Cal) even if the person is not working as a licensed health care provider. Make sure you look at all the angles in making these decisions.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Green and Associates
Office: 213-233-2260


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