NH, AZ join interstate licensing compact

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Two states have enacted legislation adopting the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and another three may soon be joining.

Governors in New Hampshire and Arizona signed bills allowing their states to join a multistate commission in offering an expedited licensing process for physicians who wish to work in multiple states. Instead of applying through a state’s traditional licensing process, the commission would share a physician’s record with state medical boards, removing the need for the board to verify those records itself. The Federation of State Medical Boards argues this would shorten a sometimes months-long process to a few weeks.

“The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact increases Arizona’s ability to attract top quality doctors to the state by dramatically decreasing licensing time, and lets the world’s most talented physicians know that Arizona is open for business,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement after signing the legislation. “Patients also benefit as the bill ensures that bureaucratic regulations, like processing paperwork, do not keep qualified physicians out of the operating room where they could be saving lives.”

New Hampshire and Arizona join 12 other states in the compact: Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Legislatures in Colorado, Kansas and Mississippi have passed bills to join the compact. A spokesman for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger he will sign the bill, with medical professionals in the state believing it will boost access to care in rural areas and make specialists more available through telehealth.

“It allows us to efficiently recruit physicians outside of the state to help provide specialty care to Mississippians in areas where we don’t have the numbers in our physician ranks to provide all the care that we are requested to provide,” Claude Brunson, MD, senior adviser at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said in a statement to the JC-L.

The compact wouldn’t cut state medical boards out of the licensing process. Physicians would have to be licensed in a state participating in the compact before applying for an expedited license through the multistate commission. Those who receive an expedited license would be held to be the laws and regulations of the state where the patient is located. Additionally, any disciplinary action taken by one state’s medical board may be automatically enforced by other states in the compact. 

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