On Wednesday, April 22nd, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-55-20, providing many drug abuse recovery and treatment facilities and providers significant reprieve from stringent rules and regulations outlined in the California Code of Regulations, Welfare and Institutions Code, and Health and Safety Code.

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) released All Plan Letter 20-011 on Friday, April 24th stating that “Executive Order [N-55-20] provides for various flexibilities in relation to state statutes and regulations, thereby allowing the Department of Health Care Services to take appropriate actions to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Several of the flexibilities (or waivers) granted to DHCS by the Executive Order include DHCS’s ability to: 

  • Authorize licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities to operate beyond the conditions and limitations otherwise imposed by their license, for the purpose of ensuring sufficient bed capacity among such licensees.
    *This is not a blanket authorization; DHCS will issue a written authorization on a facility by facility basis.

  • Grant the licensure of an alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility without conducting a physical site visit.
  • Allow for a 90 days extension on deadlines for providers to submit and for DHCS to review: (1) cost reports, (2) change in scope of service request, and (3) reconciliation requests.
  • Allow Alcohol or Other Drug (AOD) counselors an extension of time to complete their certification, if their efforts to become certified were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Allow a patient to receive psychiatric medication without the patient’s physical signature.
  • Issue bulletins or guidance related to provider enrollment, specifically concerning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, without advance notice or public hearing;

Please note that DHCS has not yet adopted the waivers listed in Executive Order N-55-20, nor has it issued a bulletin or guidance stating if and how the waivers will be implemented.

Nelson Hardiman will provide further updates regarding DHCS’s response to the Executive Order.  Until such time the waivers become effective, treatment facilities and providers, as well as any other essential workers who are impacted by the Executive Order, must comply with all current laws and regulations placed on their licenses and applications.

For more COVID-19 related legal updates, please consider subscribing to our COVID-19 Task Force Newsletter.

For questions regarding this article, please contact:

Author: Sarvnaz (Miriam) Mackin
Email: smackin@nelsonhardiman.com