Utah has become the third state to join the Federation of State Medical Board's interstate compact for streamlining the physician-licensing process. Four more states need to sign on for the system, aimed at removing a barrier to telemedicine growth, to go into effect.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill Friday to authorize his state joining the compact.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed a similar measure Feb. 27, making his state the first to enter the compact that seeks to streamline the process for doctors obtaining licenses in multiple states. South Dakota became the second state when Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed his state's version March 12.
The states are using versions of model legislation created by the federation. The streamlined process would help facilitate the practice of telemedicine because states involved follow the policy that the practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located and not where the doctor is based.
“We have certain specific specialties—like psychiatry—where we think the compact would be especially beneficial—especially with telemedicine,” said Tom Lacock, spokesman for the Wyoming Medical Society. “Whatever we can do to break down the barriers to bringing in experienced, licensed professionals, that's something we're supporting.”
The compact will help deal with redundant licensing requirements by creating one place where physicians need to submit basic information such as education credentials, Lacock said.
Bills authorizing the state medical board to enter into the compact have been passed in Idaho, Montana and West Virginia, where they are awaiting their governors' signatures.
Bills have been introduced in legislatures in Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.
“The goal of the legislation is to make it easier for qualified physicians to obtain medical licensure in multiple states in an expedited, streamlined manner,” Dr. Russell Thomas of the Texas Medical Association told the Texas House of Representatives' Public Health Committee March 10. “This may have several benefits, including increasing physician participation in telemedical care. And it may well increase our ability to attract physicians to relocate and practice in our state.”
Bills are receiving little opposition. The compact measure passed in the Wyoming state House by 59-0 vote and 29-0 in the state Senate. It passed 96-3 in Montana's state House and 43-3 in the state Senate. It passed 86-11 in West Virginia's state House of Representatives and 33-0 in the state Senate.