A piece in Monday’s NY Times highlighted the Medical Licensing Compact.  CSG, through its National Center for Interstate Compacts, is consulting with the Federation of State Medical Boards and a drafting team of subject matter experts to develop the compact.  The goal of the compact is to better utilize telehealth and improve access to health care by more easily allowing doctors to practice in multiple states.  The compact would allow doctors who meet certain criteria to more easily obtain a license to practice in member states, while preserving the authority of each state to regulate the practice of medicine within its borders.  Compact language is expected to be ready for state legislative consideration as soon as the 2015 legislative session.

Policymakers attending The Council of State Governments’ National and CSG West 2014 Annual Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, will have an opportunity hear about a new distance learning compact being developed by CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts....

Population growth, aging baby boomers and a dramatic rise in the number of insured Americans resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are stressing America’s health care system like never before. Demand for care is increasing dramatically, but access to a variety of health professionals has remained largely static. One possible solution may be an increased emphasis on license portability through a series of medical licensing compacts.

The Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact, developed jointly by CSG’s Compact Center and the National Association of State EMS Officials, will be highlighted at a meeting next week in Chicago.  In attendance will be state EMS Directors and staff from state AG offices.  The meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday June 10, will serve as the first opportunity for public comment about the new compact.  During the meeting attendees will learn about interstate compacts broadly, the EMS licensing compact, and hear about next steps. 

Since its founding, CSG’s Compact Center has worked to promote the use of interstate compacts as an ideal tool to meet the demand for cooperative state action.  During that time there have been approximately 180 adoptions of CSG supported compacts, including 10 separate adoptions of different projects during the 2014 legislative session. Two of those compacts have expanded to all 50 states, while the Educational Opportunity for Military Compact has now grown to 48 states.  Below is a summary of various CSG compact projects.

A newly launched telepsychiatry program in North Carolina is resulting in patients spending less time waiting in hospital emergency rooms for mental health services and decreasing their likelihood of returning for treatment.  The program, which started January 1, 2014, is a joint initiative between the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and Human Services, and East Carolina University.  28 of the 100 counties in North Carolina do not have a single psychiatrist, which is creating a statewide shortage for mental health services.  As a result the state is electronically connecting patients with a psychiatrist via a secured two-way video connection.

Indiana became the first state to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) this week.  SARA was developed as a joint effort between the Presidents’ Forum, the Council of State Governments, the Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education, and the four regional higher education compacts – the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). 

A blog written by Robert Kocher that appeared in Health Affairs earlier this week endorses the idea of interstate physician licensing agreements as a way to improve access to health care.  Kocher currently serves on the advisory board of the Harvard Medical School Health Care Policy Department and previously worked in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy.   In his posting he notes that the current physician licensing system limits a physician’s ability to practice across state lines, which in turn has stifled the growth of telemedicine and has also resulted in problems such as specialist shortages in rural and underserved areas. 

Florida Senate Bill 7028, entitled an act relating to telemedicine, would allow the state licensing board and the Florida Department of Health to explore a telemedicine compact for the purposes of increasing access to health care.  The bill was introduced this session and will first be considered by the Committee on Health Policy. 

A report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office endorsed the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) as a way for states and institutions to more effectively address the challenges of offering distance education programs across state borders.  The report, which is entitled Oversight of Private Colleges in California, concluded the following with respect to SARA: