Happy New Year! We hope you all had an enjoyable holiday season and celebration bringing in the new year. As a healthcare and business law firm, we represent physicians with matters before the Georgia Composite Medical Board (“GCMB”). Herein, we discuss a tool available to any physician who believes strict application of Georgia’s rules and regulations would create an undue hardship on the physician.
The GCMB is the administrative agency in Georgia responsible for the proper licensing of physicians and enforcement of the Medical Practice Act. The Medical Practice Act places many obligations and licensure requirements on physicians wishing to practice medicine within the state of Georgia. Acknowledging that strict compliance with every requirement “can lead to unreasonable, uneconomical, and unintended results in particular instances,” the GCMB has the authority to grant petitions to waive certain rules and requirements. O.C.G.A. § 50-13-9.1(a). Georgia Code section 50-13-9.1 provides the GCMB with this authority by authorizing Georgia agencies
“to grant a variance or waiver to a rule when a person subject to that rule demonstrates that the purpose of the underlying statute upon which the rule is based can be or has been achieved by other specific means which are agreeable to the person seeking the variance or waiver and that strict application of the rule would create a substantial hardship to such person.”
A variance is used if you are requesting a rule to be modified in your situation; a waiver is used if you are requesting that a rule or part thereof should not apply to your situation. If you believe your position warrants a waiver or variance, the GCMB provides clear steps for petitioning for such a request.
Specifically, the GCMB provides a Petition for Variance or Waiver form that the physician or his or her counsel must complete and return to the Executive Director of the GCMB. In compliance with Georgia Code section 50-13-19.1, the petitioner must show, in part, why strict application of the rule would lead to a substantial hardship. The code section defines “Substantial hardship” as “a significant, unique, and demonstrable economic, technological, legal, or other type of hardship to the person requesting a variance or waiver which impairs the ability of the person to continue to function in the regulated practice or business.” O.C.G.A. § 50-13-19.1(b)(1). As required, the GCMB keeps a public record of all petitions for variances and waivers, which can be found on the Georgia Secretary of State website.
Our attorneys are experienced in advising medical providers on licensure and Georgia Composite Medical Board matters. If you have licensing or other GCMB questions or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.