- Healthcare providers in half of the United States now have the opportunity to practice telehealth in multiple states.
Michigan’s inclusion in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), approved by lawmakers in 2018 and signed into law on Dec. 31 by Gov. Rick Snyder, makes it the 25th state to join the compact, which offers an expedited pathway to licensure for physicians wishing to practice in multiple states.
“The expansion of the Compact to half of all U.S. states is an incredible achievement and testament to state medical boards’ efforts to innovate and improve license portability,” Humayun Chaudhry, DO, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), said in a press release. “We welcome Michigan into the Compact and are pleased that Michiganders will benefit from having increased access to medical care.”
The compact has the support of two of the state’s biggest health systems.
“Ascension Michigan applauds the passage of legislation providing for the state of Michigan to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact,” Sean Gehle, Chief Advocacy Officer of Ascension Michigan, said in the FSMB press release. “We believe that not only will the Compact facilitate increased access to healthcare for patients in underserved areas of our state, allowing them to more easily connect to medical experts through the use of telemedicine, but also provide for a more streamlined and expeditious process for recruitment of physicians to these same underserved areas.”
“Trinity Health is excited to recognize the passage of legislation providing for the state of Michigan to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact,” added Bill Manns, President of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston Hospitals. “This will be very helpful in increasing access to health care for patients in underserved areas of our state. The compact will provide pathways and additional resources to more efficiently interact with medical experts through the use of telemedicine. The compact also provides for a more streamlined and timely process for recruitment of physicians to these same underserved areas.”
Launched in 2014 by the FSMB, the compact went live on April 16, 2017, when the 18th state approved legislation to join.
Along with Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia and Guam are part of the compact.
Kentucky, New Mexico and South Carolina are considering joining the compact, and Rhode Island’s status is uncertain. That state’s Legislature created a special commission to examine the feasibility of joining the compact, but that commission has not yet reported its findings.
As of December 31, 2018, 4,511 medical licenses have been issued and 2,400 applications processed through the IMLC.
“The rise in the number of physicians utilizing the Compact process is testament to its success,” Chaudhry said in a November 2018 press release. “Reducing barriers to practicing in multiple states is allowing qualified physicians to reach more patients and improve access to care. We commend the leadership of the IMLCC for their tireless work and congratulate them on reaching such an important milestone.”
The compact is one of three currently in operation.
Nine states – Oregon, North Dakota, Utah, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Iowa and New Hampshire – are now active, while another 12 states – Washington, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and New Jersey – have enacted legislation but aren’t yet processing licenses. One other state, Virginia, is considering legislation.
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), overseen by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, went live as the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in January 2018 and was revised in July. That compact creates an expedited licensing [process for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) in member states.
To date, 31 states have joined the compact, with Louisiana and Kansas set to join in July, and Massachusetts and New Jersey are contemplating legislation to join. Another state, Rhode Island, had been a part of the compact but dropped out last year.