Thirteen senators have signaled their support for efforts to facilitate telemedicine across state lines - a key barrier to health systems and even small practices looking to expand their business and serve remote patients.
The senators recently sent a letter of support to the Federation of State Medical Boards, which has recruited 11 states to agree to a compact that streamlines licensing guidelines for doctors wishing to practice across state lines while preserving each state's regulatory oversight. Legislatures in another eight states are now discussing the so-called Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
"The compact is critically important to ensure the expansion of telehealth technology, which we believe plays an important role improving access to healthcare for our constituents," the senators wrote. They also praised the compact for not adding to the regulatory burden placed on physicians.
To date, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, West Virginia, Montana, Alabama, Minnesota, Nevada, Iowa and Illinois have signed onto the compact, surpassing the seven states needed to make it a reality. The issue is now before lawmakers in Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin, and some 30 state medical and osteopathic boards have endorsed it.
"In the coming months, we encourage you to continue to work with your member medical boards and states to consider participation in the compact, which will simultaneously facilitate multistate practice while ensuring states' ability to regulate medicine and ensure patient safety," the letter concluded.
The letter was signed by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
With the formal approval of the compact last year, an Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission was created to manage and administer the voluntary process. That commission is slated to meet for the first time later this month.