States take up interstate compact to simplify medical licensure

Eleven states have endorsed an interstate compact designed to facilitate a speedier medical licensure process with fewer administrative burdens for physicians seeking licensure in multiple states.

Developed by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), the compact will make it easier for physicians to obtain licenses in multiple states while providing access to safe, quality care. The AMA endorsed the compact in November and created new policy to work with interested medical associations, the FSMB and other stakeholders to ensure expeditious adoption of the compact and the creation of an Interstate Medical Licensure Commission.

States began considering the compact for adoption in January, and already, legislators in 11 states—Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming—have introduced the legislation.

Last week, FSMB released a new map that highlights the growing support in state legislatures for the compact. The interactive map allows physicians to see if their state has introduced legislation supporting the compact.

The compact is based on several key principles:

  • 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 cooperation and adaptation.

"The AMA has long supported reform of the state licensure process to reduce costs and expedite applications while protecting patient safety and promoting quality care,” AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD, said in a September statement when FSMB introduced the compact. “State-based licensure is an important tenet of accountability, ensuring that physicians are qualified through the review of their education, training, character and professional and disciplinary histories. The interstate compact … aligns with our efforts to modernize state medical licensure, allowing for an expedited licensing pathway in participating states.”

The AMA will continue to work with the FSMB and other stakeholders to advance this compact among interested states. Visit the AMA Web page on telemedicine for more information on the interstate compact.