Compact aims to ease licensing for telemedicine

A new pathway is being proposed that would make it easier for doctors to be licensed in multiple states.

Draft legislation--in the form of an interstate compact--has been crafted by officials representing state medical boards around the U.S., and has the backing of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), according to an article in the New York Times.

"It would allow doctors to see more patients than ever before, if they want to," Humayun J. Chaudhry, FSMB president, told the Times.

The legislation, if passed, would give doctors the ability to apply for an interstate license. Currently, they must apply for a license for each individual state in which they want to practice, a hindrance to those who use telemedicine, a MedPage Today article explains.

The compact would be enforced by a commission that would approve the doctor's request for an "expedited license" from one or more states. 

The draft legislation comes on the heels of a policy adopted in April by the FSMB on telemedicine. That policy would require medical care delivered electronically to hold to the same standards of care of in-person visits. The American Telemedicine Association said that sets the bar too high for telemedicine, especially the policy's requirement that doctors be licensed in the same state where the patient is located. 

Chaudhry pointed to the interstate compact as a way to combat the problem, FierceHealthIT reported.

However, not everyone thinks the draft legislation gets the job done.

"We commend the FSMB for working to simplify existing cumbersome state-by-state telehealth licensure requirements ... [but] we think the proposal falls short of what is needed," the Alliance for Connected Care said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthIT.

The alliance said that even with the legislation, physicians could still "not practice out-of-state until the state in which they want to practice approves their license application and fees are paid."

To learn more:
- read the draft legislation (.pdf)
- read the New York Times article