Stakeholders concerned licensure compact fails to boost telemedicine access

The Federation of State Medical Boards' finalized model interstate licensure compact, unveiled last Friday, does not do enough to boost telemedicine access in a meaningful way, according to James Turner, senior policy counsel for the Health IT Now Coalition.

Turner, in a statement released shortly after the compact was made public, said the document could have been improved if it granted providers the ability to deliver virtual care to patients in Compact states without having to obtain additional an additional license.

"The FSMB recommendation … is essentially an expedited licensure process based on the current state-based model," Turner said. "A provider licensed to practice in the state where the patient resides should have the same opportunity to treat that patient anywhere in the United States."

In contrast, American Medical Association President Robert Wah supported FSMB's efforts, saying the compact improves the licensure process.

"State-based licensure is an important tenet of accountability, ensuring that physicians are qualified through the review of their education, training, character and professional and disciplinary histories," Wah said. "The interstate compact … aligns with our efforts to modernize state medical licensure, allowing for an expedited licensing pathway in participating states."

AMA's telemedicine policy, adopted in June, nearly mirrors FSMB's policy, calling for doctors delivering telemedicine to be licensed in the state where a patient is receiving treatment. AMA's policy also recommends that patients receiving such care have access to both licensure and board certification qualifications of providers in advance of their appointment.

"Whether a patient is seeing his or her physician in person or via telemedicine, the same standards of care must be maintained," Wah said following the release of AMA's policy.

Both the American Telemedicine Association and the Alliance for Connected Care took issue with FSMB's compact when it was introduced as a proposal for similar reasons as the Health IT Now Coalition, with the former saying it set the bar too high for telemedicine.

To learn more:
- here's the Health IT Now Coalition statement
- check out AMA's statement