The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will provide $250,000 annually for three years to help state medical boards implement the administrative and technical infrastructure of the new Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact offers a voluntary, expedited licensing process for physicians interested in practicing medicine in multiple states. The compact is expected to expand access to healthcare, especially to those in rural and underserved areas of the country, and facilitate the use of telemedicine technologies in the delivery of healthcare.
As addressed in a feature story written last fall for Healthcare Informatics on telemedicine policy, Senior Contributing Editor David Raths noted that a main challenge has been licensing providers across state lines. “Clinicians who want to treat patients in another state have had to apply for and pay for licenses in those states, a costly and time-consuming process. Some state boards have sought to prevent or limit the expansion of telehealth, citing patient safety concerns,” Raths wrote.
The address the license portability issue, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) created the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, an option under which qualified physicians seeking to practice in multiple states would be eligible for expedited licensure in all states participating in the compact.
The grant from HRSA, announced last Friday, will provide $250,000 annually for three years to help the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact become operational and also will support educational outreach to expand participation in the Compact by other states. Grant funding will begin July 1.
So far, 17 states have enacted the compact since 2015, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
According to FSMB, the compact is expected to expand access to health care, especially to those in rural and underserved areas of the country, and facilitate the use of telemedicine technologies in the delivery of health care.
“The continuing support of HRSA has been very beneficial to state medical boards in their ongoing effort to increase access to quality health care and support the expanded use of telemedicine for patients by streamlining the medical licensure process,” Art Hengerer, M.D., chair of the FSMB, said in a statement.
Ian Marquand, chairperson of the Interstate Medical Licensure Commission, said the funding comes as the commission prepares to undertake significant tasks and make important decisions. “As Commission Chairperson and as an individual Commissioner who state is keenly interested in the success of the compact, I look forward to learning more about how the grant will support that work.”