New Compact Helps Physicians Obtain Multiple State Licenses

Ken Terry

April 10, 2017

The Interstate Medical Licensure compact, which makes it easier for physicians to get licensed in multiple states, was launched last week. The compact is an agreement of the 18 participating states and their MD and DO licensing boards.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission has begun accepting applications from qualified physicians who wish to obtain multiple licenses from the participating states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In addition, compact legislation has been introduced in Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

 "The launch of the compact will empower interested and eligible physicians to deliver high-quality care across state lines to reach more patients in rural and underserved communities," said Humayan Chaudhry, DO, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which spearheaded the compact, in a news release. "This is a major win for patient safety and an achievement that will lessen the burden being felt nationwide as a result of our country's physician shortage. I congratulate the Commission and all of our partners who worked tirelessly over the last five years to make this day a reality."

Under the compact process, physicians licensed in one state can be licensed in another without filling out a formal application or sending records to the second state. But they must meet the compact's eligibility requirements, and their principal state of license must attest to their qualifications.

Among the physicians expected to benefit from the compact are locum tenens doctors, doctors who practice in metropolitan areas that include more than one state, and doctors who provide telemedicine services to patients in other states.

The compact launch had originally been scheduled for January, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s objection to data sharing in a few states apparently caused a delay in the compact's initiation.

Last summer, the FBI told Minnesota and Montana that they could not have the FBI's criminal background data if they planned to share it with the Medical Licensure Compact Commission, which the FBI regarded as a private entity. Earlier this year, Minnesota legislators introduced a bill clarifying that the state medical board has the right to ask individuals to go through background checks and that it would not be sharing the criminal data with the commission.

Ruth Martinez, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, told Medscape Medical News in January that Montana and Nevada had received the same letter that the FBI had sent Minnesota. She said both of those states had similar bills in the hopper to meet the FBI objection.

At press time, FSMB spokesman Joe Knickrehm told Medscape Medical News that the Montana bill had passed. The Minnesota legislation passed the state House but was still in the state Senate, he said. He didn't have an update on the Nevada bill.

The FSMB released the final version of the compact in September 2014. By the following May, seven states had joined the compact — the minimum number needed to set it in motion.

The American Telemedicine Association said the compact didn't go far enough because it didn't allow telemedicine doctors to be licensed in every state. The FSMB and the American Medical Association support the compact, however, because it enables state medical boards to retain control over the licensure and disciplining of physicians in their jurisdictions.

The commission's website, IMLCC.org, provides information about who is eligible to apply for expedited licensure, as well as a step-by-step explanation of the application process.

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