AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Diligently Working To Formulate An Interstate Licensing Solution

Representatives of the country’s State Medical Boards are persistently working on drafting new legislation to revamp the process of the state by state licensing of physicians. Currently physicians are required to be licensed in each individual state in order to practice across state boundaries. The individual state licensing requirement is widely thought to be a major barrier to the expansion of telemedicine.

The proposed plan is thought to offer the most dramatic changes in medical licensing offered to date and, if enacted, could increase access to doctors and specialists for patients located in rural areas and permit people with complex illnesses or rare diseases to more easily consult experts. The proposed interstate compact would speed-up the process of licensing doctors in multiple states while preserving each state’s authority to regulate the practice of medicine within their respective borders.

Under the proposed compact, doctors who meet certain standards could avoid the longstanding requirement that they apply for licenses state by state. The compact would be administered and enforced by an interstate commission consisting of representatives from each participating state.

Mari E. Robinson, executive director of the Texas Medical Board said, “The compact would make it easier for physicians to get a license to practice in multiple states and would strengthen public protection because it would help states share disciplinary information that they cannot share now.”

While the compact proposal is the most aggressive model for change to interstate licensing to date, some feel as though the effort stops short of resolving all the issues. Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, believes the Federation’s proposition does not go far enough. “Their model is not a reciprocity model,” Linkous recently told MobiHealthNews. “The physician would still have to pay a fee to every state, probably (also) a processing fee, and have a third party handle the paperwork, which may or may not be a good thing. And we don’t know if all the states will adopt it.” The ATA estimates that doctors currently spend $200 million to $300 million a year for multiple state licensing, an expense that contributes to the rising cost of medical care nationwide.

Participation in the compact would be voluntary for both physicians and state medical boards and would only become effective and binding upon legislative enactment of the compact by at least seven states. If adopted by enough states it would be a first step in removing a formidable barrier to rapidly expanding the use of telemedicine nationwide.

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