Since our last post about interstate physician licensing in August 2014, 15 states have introduced legislation to approve the plan, which would establish a voluntary process to streamline licensing for physicians in multiple states. Legislative chambers in three of those 15 states—South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming—have already voted to endorse the compact. According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, the House chambers in Wyoming and Utah passed compact legislation unanimously.
It’s not surprising that largely rural states are leading the bandwagon of support for the compact, because one of its main objectives is to increase physician services in underserved areas via face-to-face visits with patients across nearby state borders or via telemedicine.
The Federation of State Medical Boards recently unveiled an updated draft of its “interstate compact” for physician licensure. Because physician licensing is a state-by-state process, once the compact language is finalized, states would have to approve participation legislatively.
The compact would offer a streamlined process for licensing physicians to practice in more than one state. The potential benefits include providing physician services in rural and underserved areas and promoting the growth of telemedicine.
Eligibility for expedited licensing will be limited to board-certified physicians with an unrestricted license in one state for the past three years, and to those who’ve had no run-ins with disciplinary boards, courts, or the DEA. The physician would be responsible for paying required fees to the additional states and to the interstate commission overseeing the process. The location of the patient, not the physician, would be the jurisdiction for oversight, and participating state boards would be required to share complaint and investigative information with other participating states.
The federation expects legislation to be ready for states to consider beginning in early 2015, and federation president Humayun Chaudhry, DO, expressed confidence that the compact would be endorsed by all states. In the meantime, stakeholders will have to address questions such as how patient insurance and medical liability insurance will work with the compact.