Florida Health Care License

Important Update on AHCA and Exemptions from Disqualification

Arrests and convictions can taint or interrupt your career goals, especially if you work in healthcare. Arrests and convictions can result in an automatic denial, disqualification, or revocation of licensure.

If you are trying to get a professional healthcare license in Florida with previous arrests or convictions, you must obtain an exemption from disqualification. The Attorneys at Howell, Buchan, and Strong will step in to help you obtain your exemption and achieve your career goals.

Here we discuss an important recent update on the exemption process coming from a case between an APRN and AHCA, Garcia v. AHCA, 330 So. 3d 542 (4th DCA 2021). This case shows the challenges faced in obtaining with criminal history and proving entitlement to exemption.

Background on DOH and AHCA

Two primary Florida entities regulate the licensure of health care professionals:

  • Florida Department of Health- The DOH licenses and regulates health care professionals.
  • Agency for Health Care Administration- The AHCA is responsible for licensing and regulating healthcare facilities, such as long-term care facilities, clinics, nursing homes, and home health. Additionally, they administer the Medicaid program for the State of Florida.

A Quick Glance at Garcia v. AHCA

Jennifer Garcia was an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and certified nurse midwife who provided care to Medicaid patients until she was disqualified from the Medicaid program due to a misdemeanor conviction. Garcia applied for an exemption from disqualification and AHCA denied her application. Garcia then challenged AHCA’s decision.

The Judge found that Garcia showed that she was rehabilitated from her misdemeanor conviction. The Judge recommended that Garcia be granted an exemption. Nonetheless, AHCA again wrongfully denied her exemption.

Garcia appealed again, and the Court found that Garcia had demonstrated rehabilitation by clear and convincing evidence. The Court determined that Garcia’s offense was completely unrelated to her work with Medicaid patients and the Medicaid program. Additionally, there was no evidence to show that Garcia would present a danger to Medicaid patients. The Court held that AHCA may not reject the Judge’s finding that Garcia was rehabilitated and entitled to an exemption.

Have a Criminal Record or Recent Conviction? Our Law Firm Can Help!

If your criminal background records show that you or an employee has a criminal record, or you have obtained a ‘disqualification letter’ from AHCA or DOH, our Law Firm of skilled and qualified professionals can help you obtain an exemption. Our Attorneys will guide you throughout the process.

Many healthcare professionals make the mistake of not seeking representation when applying for initial license or an exemption.  Instead, they contact us once they receive a letter or ‘Notice of Intent to Deny License.’ Connect with our Attorneys to avoid the situation escalating.

At Howell, Buchan, and Strong Attorneys at Law, we exhaust all avenues to help you keep your license and can help professionals with the exemption processes to provide eligibility for employment in the various industries. 

Have Questions? Let's Talk

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. 

Tallahassee (850) 877-7776 | Orlando (407) 717-1773 | Tampa (813) 833-6726

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