How to Survive and Stay in Business After Receiving a Complaint or Notice from AHCA
When AHCA issues a complaint or a notice seeking to close your facility, you need to know how to stay in business.
AHCA will issue an administrative complaint (A.C.) seeking revocation or suspension of your license or a notice of intent to deny your renewal license (NOI) or notice of withdrawal of your application for renewal (NOIW). There are statutory provisions that help you stay in business and not get shut down when litigating with AHCA and the case is sent to the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).
The Stay Process | Step 01
After receiving the complaint or notice, it is crucial that you file your election of rights (EOR) form or contact an attorney to prepare a request for a hearing. Time is of the essence! You only have 21 days after receiving any of these notices to file the EOR. If not timely filed, AHCA will default your case. If you do not complete the EOR form correctly, AHCA will give you one chance to correct it. If it is not corrected to pass the review, AHCA will proceed to default your case.
When completing the EOR form, you also need to choose between an informal hearing and a formal hearing. It is helpful to have an attorney skilled in administrative law to assist in making this choice. Upon filing your EOR or request for a hearing, there are several statutes that apply to help you stay in business. Licensees should be reminded that if they continue to operate while the complaint or notice is pending in litigation, they must continue to comply with all applicable statutes, including filing renewal applications. (See, Section 408.815(2), Florida Statutes)
The Stay Process | Step 02
Equally important is that you can seek a stay after AHCA enters a Final Order on a complaint or notice that requires you to shut down or close. This is step two of the stay process and it's when you need to seek a court’s assistance to stay in business.
At this point, you need to appeal the final order and seek assistance from an appellate court. It is crucial to take an appeal within thirty (30) days of “rendition of the final order” by AHCA. If an appeal is not taken, this right vanishes. After the appeal is filed, the licensee must seek a request for a stay or halting of enforcement of the final order issued by AHCA.
A stay must be granted by an appellate court so that you are not required to shut down or close your business. There are five appellate courts in Florida. A licensee can seek help from either the district court of appeal (DCA) for their home county or the DCA where the agency is located – Tallahassee. An administrative law attorney with appellate experience can assist in seeking the stay before a specific District Court of Appeal.
How an Attorney Can Assist
Contact Howell, Buchan & Strong if you need assistance for:
- Review of the AHCA Notice or Administrative Complaint you have received;
- Advice and counsel on options to save your facility from being shut down;
- Discuss ways to stay (or "freeze") AHCA's attempt to suspend or revoke your license.
- Represent you against AHCA in legal proceedings.
Have questions about your license and recent AHCA notices? Contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong at 850-877-7776 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Our firm represents physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other licensed professionals statewide.
Orlando (407) 717-1773 | Tallahassee (850) 877-7776 | Tampa (813) 833-6726 | Sarasota (941) 779-4348