What’s New with the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact? 2021 Update

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) continues to expand in 2021.

Delaware just became the 34th member of the IMLC, which is an agreement that provides a pathway to expedited licensure in participating states for qualified physicians. The state’s General Assembly passed legislation in May, and Delaware Governor John Carney signed House Bill 160 into law on June 23, 2021.

Earlier in June, Texas became the 33rd member of the compact.  With these two recent additions, there are now 32 states, plus the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam, that participate in the IMLC.

Which states will be next? Read on for a mid-year IMLC update.

IMLC in 2021 and beyond

Although more than half of the states are now members of the IMLC, the compact hasn’t actually been around that long. With assistance from the Federation of State Medical Boards, a group of state medical board executives, administrators and attorneys drafted the model compact and introduced it publicly in the fall of 2014. State legislatures soon began adopting it, and in April 2017, the compact became operational. 

Since that time, states have continued to pass legislation to join the compact.

Prior to Texas, Louisiana was the most recent state to join the IMLC, having made the decision official in late 2020. “They anticipate going live on July 1,” said Marschall Smith, executive director of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission (IMLCC).

And the compact may expand yet again very soon. As of June 29, 2021, there is active IMLC legislation pending in five states:

  • Ohio
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Massachusetts

  • According to Smith, Ohio is likely to join the medical licensure compact next.

    Ohio’s Senate recently passed Senate Bill 364, which put the bill on a path to the House.  If the House greenlights the legislation, it would go to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s desk to await his signature. Depending on how long it takes the bill to make it through these two steps, Ohio could join the IMLC this summer.

    Compact membership might also be on the horizon for North Carolina, which currently has a bill (Senate Bill 380) active in committee.

    “I would say that has a better than 50-50 chance of passing,” Smith said.

    Could all 50 states eventually become members of the IMLC? Given that the legislation has languished or died in some states, it’s hard to predict with certainty, but Smith remains optimistic that even the holdouts may eventually come around.

    “I think there is sufficient pressure,” he said, explaining that the compact gives physicians more flexibility to help patients in more states via telemedicine or in-person care—the importance of which came to the forefront as the COVID-19 pandemic developed.

    Smith also noted that license applications surged as COVID-19 cases grew. During the 12-month period from March 2019 to February 2020, the IMLC commission processed 3,738 applications and issued 3,877 licenses to physicians. But during the March 2020-February 2021 time period, they processed 5,282 applications and issued 8,126 licenses.

    The IMLCC notes that “licenses are still issued by the individual states – just as they would be using the standard licensing process – but because the application for licensure in these states is routed through the Compact, the overall process of gaining a license is significantly streamlined.”

    More awareness of medical licensure issues

    The COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness of the need for streamlined medical licensure as physicians and other healthcare providers were needed to provide care across state lines in order to assist in hot spots throughout the country. A number of states waived in-state licensure requirements for telehealth, and various state and federal legislative acts were used to increase access to care during the emergency declaration.

    In February 2021, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act in the Senate, while Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. The Senate legislation, filed as Senate Bill 168, would “temporarily authorize the interstate provision of in-person and telehealth services” and would apply during and at least 180 days after an emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Smith notes that the IMLC already helps physicians who want to incorporate telehealth into their practice to care for patients across state lines. The compact streamlines the application process for a medical license to practice in other states, and the authorization to practice would not be subject to an emergency declaration.

     Locum tenens physicians who want to take assignments in other states also benefit from the expedited licensure application process afforded by the IMLC.

    STAFF CARE places locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners in full-time and part-time assignments throughout the country, and our team can assist with state medical licensure, credentialing, housing and more.

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