Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a law, supported by NJBIA, to help maintain adequate staffing at hospitals and nursing homes during COVID-19 by allowing the state to continue issuing temporary emergency licenses through June 30 for certain healthcare workers. 

The legislation, S-4139/A-6155, sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale (D-19) and Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7), applies to medical professionals already licensed in other states as well as recent graduates of accredited healthcare worker programs who are unable to take New Jersey licensing exams during the pandemic. The law was signed Wednesday, two days after both houses of the Legislature voted unanimously to approve the bill. 

The Division of Consumer Affairs began issuing emergency reciprocal licenses in March 2020 to healthcare professionals already licensed in other states. In May of 2020, the division issued additional waivers allowing emergency graduate licensure for healthcare workers who have completed accredited programs but have been unable to take state licensing exams during the pandemic. The new law was needed because an executive order authorizing the emergency licenses expired on Jan. 11. 

“NJBIA supported this legislation because it will help New Jersey’s hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities properly staff their facilities during a time of critical need,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas.  

The temporary emergency graduate licenses affect nurses, physician assistants, certified nurse aides, respiratory care therapists, pharmacists and alcohol and drug counselors. 

NJBIA and other healthcare organizations wrote to the governor and legislative leaders in December urging them to extend the temporary emergency licensing and other waivers related to healthcare workers, noting these had been a lifeline to healthcare providers facing unprecedented challenges serving patients and maintaining staffing during COVID-19.