HAP Resource Center

HAP Letter to Acting Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of State, Pennsylvania Licensing System

September 10, 2018

Acting Secretary Robert Torres
Pennsylvania Department of State
302 North Office Building, 401 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Acting Secretary Torres,

I am writing to you on behalf of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), which represents approximately 240 member hospitals and health systems. Our outreach to you is an effort to garner support to address the licensure delays that our members are experiencing as a result of the implementation of the state’s new database, the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS).

HAP appreciates the commonwealth’s efforts to implement a new system designed to streamline operations and processing time for licensure applications and renewals. We understand and appreciate that your team has instituted measures to help alleviate the delays in licensure approvals. However, our members are still experiencing delays, which creates an undue burden for the onboarding of practitioners as well as an impediment in access to care for their patients.

We are particularly concerned about potential delays as we move into the renewal period for medical/osteopathic physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. A delay in the renewal of these practitioners’ licenses would result in a disruption in patient care for our hospital members.

HAP recently met with Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) Commissioner, Mr. Ian Harlow, to advocate on behalf of our members and to offer possible solutions to address the backlog of application approvals.

Representatives from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Allegheny Health Network, and Penn State Hershey Medical Center joined HAP to explain how the licensure delays are negatively impacting their operations.

Discussion points included the need to:

  • Assess the licensing board’s workflow process to address the delays in processing
  • Strengthen the line of communication between board staff, hospital staff, and other designated individuals throughout the application process
  • Proactively address concerns regarding upcoming medical and osteopathic physician licensure renewals to ensure that they are processed in a timely manner

Commissioner Harlow was receptive to the recommendations offered and following the meeting, contacted HAP and outlined the next steps to address the issue at hand, which we Acting Secretary Robert Torres September 10, 2018 Page 2 fully support. Commissioner Harlow shared that BPOA is deploying the functionality in the PALS system where an applicant can enter an employer’s email address and receive updates and discrepancy notices about the applicant. In addition, he communicated that BPOA is developing a user guide for this feature and will share it with HAP to distribute to its members. The Commissioner stated that, while this is a stop-gap to address the immediate need, they are working towards a longer-term solution that actually will allow for “delegate” access to the applicant’s record.

The discussion with the BPOA Commissioner also addressed the need for BPOA to procure additional staff to assist in the processing of the licensure applications. Following our discussion, we were pleased to learn that the Governor’s Office had approved 11 new positions for BPOA. The Commissioner revealed that they plan to assign a majority of the new staff to the Medical, Osteopathic, and Nursing boards to assist in the processing of licensure applications.

While we appreciate these responses to address the licensure delays, ongoing efforts need to persist in a timely manner. We urge you to continue to provide all of the necessary resources needed to ensure that access to care is not hampered.

The provision of timely and necessary resources will reinforce BPOA’s efforts in the delivery of timely licensure approvals. This, in turn, will ensure the timely distribution of health care to all Pennsylvania citizens.

Thank you.


Andy Carter
President and CEO
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania


Topics: State Advocacy, Workforce

Revision Date: 9/10/2018

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