Medical licensure to be streamlined under new interstate compact

Physicians who wish to practice in multiple states could soon see a speedier process with fewer administrative and financial burdens as they pursue state medical licensure, thanks to an interstate compact released Friday by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

The new model legislation, which has been in the works since 2013, is designed to make the licensure process more efficient for physicians while ensuring high standards of patient safety. The compact also is anticipated to help increase access to care for patients in rural and other underserved populations via the responsible practice of telemedicine.

“The interstate compact … aligns with our efforts to modernize state medical licensure, allowing for an expedited licensing pathway in participating states,” AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD, said in a statement.

The compact is based on several key principles, including:

  • The practice of medicine is defined as taking place where the patient receives care, requiring the physician to be licensed in that state and under the jurisdiction of that state’s medical board. This tenant aligns with the principles for telemedicine that were developed by the AMA Council on Medical Service and adopted at the 2014 AMA Annual Meeting.
  • Regulatory authority will remain with the participating state medical boards, rather than being delegated to an entity that would administer the compact.
  • Participation in the compact is voluntary for both physicians and state boards of medicine.

Among states that adopt it, the compact would act as an independent law and as a contract among the states to help ensure ongoing corporation and adaptation.

States can begin considering this legislation for adoption beginning in 2015, and there already is considerable interest in such a framework. Earlier this year, 16 U.S. senators—including lawmakers from several states with large rural populations—sent a letter of support to the FSMB, pointing to the increased access to care the compact would enable for patients in their states.

The AMA will continue to work with the FSMB and other stakeholders to advance this compact among interested states.