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Making it Easier for Docs to Practice in Other States

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A Washington House committee is considering a bill that would make it easier for doctors to get licenses to practice in other states.

Currently, physicians who practice in one state may now apply directly to other states for medical licenses on a state-by-state basis. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact has 16 member states, including Idaho and Montana. It has agreed to adopt one set of rules and procedures that make it easier for doctors to become eligible to practice in the other member states.

Dr. Mika Sinanan is a professor of surgery at the University of Washington. He told members of the Senate Health Care Committee Monday that an easier licensing process will lead to improved health care for consumers. Not only will it make it easier for doctors from elsewhere to come to Washington, it will help Washington physicians to serve their patients who move to other states.

“I myself don’t have licensure outside of Washington state because of the complexity of maintaining multiple licenses," Dr. Sinanan said. "But if we were a member of a compact, it would allow me to continue offering care for patients who sometimes don’t have a straightforward path to recovery. I could continue to help with their management without requiring them to pay the cost and take the discomfort of a long trip back to our clinic as a follow up.”

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact isn’t yet helping to speed up interstate medical licensing, but expects to do so later this spring. A commission that includes representatives from each state will oversee and administer the compact. But it won’t have the authority to override a state’s ability to issue licenses and investigate patient complaints about doctors.