Streamlining Telemedicine in Michigan? - House Bill 4583
By: Louis C. Szura, Esq.
Date: August 7, 2015
Telemedicine is booming and Michigan is looking to keep up. If a recently introduced bill is enacted, the State of Michigan will be added to the growing number of states that have recognized the importance of streamlining the medical licensure process – which is a common hurdle to the practice of telemedicine. Since physicians typically must be licensed in the state in which their patient is located, the practice of telemedicine often requires a physician to obtain multiple state licensures. However, the typical application and approval process for such licensure can be lengthy and slow. That can deter physicians from implementing telemedicine into their practices. But, that could change soon.
On May 12, 2015, Michigan House Bill 4583 was introduced and referred to the Committee on Health Policy. That bill seeks to adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act (“Compact”) developed by the Federation of State Medical Boards. The Compact allows states to maintain their own medical licensure qualifications, while allowing for an “expedited” licensure process for certain qualified providers. Under the Compact, in order to qualify for expedited licensure, providers would have to meet heightened standards, such as (a) possessing a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in their designated state, (b) possessing specialty certification, (c) not having any discipline on any state medical license or related to controlled substances, nor currently be under investigation by any licensing or law enforcement agency, (d) passing the USMLE or COMLEX within 3 attempts, and (e) completing a graduate medical education program. Once those qualifications are verified by the primary state designated by the physician, other member states then issue that physician a full license upon payment of the applicable fees. Meanwhile, other physicians would still be able to seek licensure through the typical, non-expedited process.
The benefits of the Compact are catching on around the country. A couple of weeks ago, on July 20, 2015, fellow Great Lakes state, Illinois, became the eleventh and largest state to sign onto the Compact. In addition to those eleven states (Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming), the Compact is gaining traction in other states as well. Since the beginning of 2015, the Compact has been introduced in seven other states, in addition to Michigan. While it is unclear if and when those bills will become law in each state, some states are clearly interested in fostering telemedicine for their providers and citizens. It only took Illinois five months from its introduction to pass the Compact. Let’s hope Michigan’s lawmakers can address H.B. 4583 with the same tenacity.
-- Louis Szura focuses his practice on health care law and general business litigation. He can be reach at email@example.com.
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