In an effort to implement a permanent way for all states to admit expedited interstate licensures, ERIC has urged 21 states to take the necessary steps to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Commission Compact (IMLCC). The IMLCC is an agreement among participating states to expedite the pathway to licensure for physicians who qualify. Joining the compact will eliminate barriers to care during this pandemic crisis, a time when families need access to telehealth more than ever before.
Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia participate in the IMLCC, waiving state medical licensure requirements for out-of-state providers, which allows telehealth providers to practice in multiple states without having to endure a cumbersome and often delayed state-by-state application process. The compact allows qualified providers to receive licenses for each participating state through a singular and streamlined application process. Permitting providers to practice in multiple states compensates for provider shortages in COVID-19 hotspots, and is critical in rural regions that lack access to care or have low numbers of providers per capita. This is especially important in areas like behavioral health, where providers have clustered on the coasts and many areas are experiencing severe shortages – telehealth was made to address problems like these.
For a state to join the IMLCC, the legislature must introduce and pass a bill authorizing the state to join the compact, and the bill must be signed (or otherwise enacted) into law. The language of the compact must be consistent amongst the participating states.
Temporary Emergency Waiver Asks
ERIC has urged Governor Hutchinson and Walz of Arkansas and Minnesota to join the other 48 states and D.C. in temporarily expanding national telehealth licensing waivers to out-of-state providers during the state’s emergency declaration. When patients seek telehealth services, they need a doctor to be ready and willing on the other end, and restrictive state licensing requirements reduce the supply of available providers.
Recently, Minnesota has clarified that despite not being specified in their COVID-19 Executive Order, Minnesota’s already established statute permits licensure waivers. Arkansas has not yet addressed the issue of national reciprocity for out-of-state telehealth providers at all.
Additionally, other state barriers to telehealth usage remain. In Arkansas, the only telehealth provision that has been waived is the requirement that a patient and provider establish a relationship face-to-face before conducting a telehealth encounter. To expand access, Arkansas should immediately waive the licensure requirements for out-of-state providers to practice telehealth in their state, as well as other barriers to telehealth use.
ERIC will continue to work with the respective administrations and our allies on the ground to advocate for expanded telehealth access for employees and their families amidst the public health crisis. We strongly encourage member companies to contact state governors to echo our asks.
Article by Carly Sternberg, Health Policy Associate