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Inter-State Physician Licensure System to Be Recommended

Kathryn Foxhall

February 25, 2008 A special committee under the National Governors Association (NGA) is set to tell US governors that states must create a physician licensure system that works across state lines "in a uniform manner," permitting open interaction of physicians with other physicians and patients across boundaries.
The committee, the State Alliance for E-Health, established by the NGA a year ago, adopted the recommendation on February 22, calling for a convention of the state and territorial medical boards to meet under NGA's auspices and decide how to create the system.
The recommendation will go to the governors within a few weeks, as part of the alliance's first report.
Stating that the licensure system should be based on agreements and information-sharing, enabling coordinated action, the resolution says the system, "should not be considered a national license."
The model, it says, should be used to promote e-health, including telemedicine, but it may "serve as a model for other forms of medical practice."
When a physician wants to practice in another state, "There would be a mechanism in place in which that physician could notify that medical board or there would be a process to notify that medical board.... Then there would be a process in which that state would have jurisdiction over that physician in his e-health practice," explained Thelma McClosky Armstrong, a co-chair of the 17-member taskforce of healthcare executives that drafted the recommendations. She is director of the Eastern Montana Telemedicine Network.
However, one alliance member, Herb Conaway, MD, a member of the New Jersey legislature, warned that it will be a big leap for states to trust each other on licensure: "States are going to be jittery about accepting the work done in other states, as telemedicine grows and there are more opportunities for physicians to work at great distance."
In addition, he said, "Physicians...and others who are involved in this on a competitive basis are going to have a lot to say, as well. We don't operate in a political vacuum."
The alliance also passed a similar recommendation for pharmacists' licensure. In addition, it will urge that states participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact, an arrangement in which about 22 states have recognized other states' nurse licensure for about the past 9 years.
NGA created the State Alliance with a contract from the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to address state-level health information technology issues. Made up of 12 state-level officials, it is cochaired by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas.