The Sunday edition of the New York Times reported that the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has released a historic, model act that would make it much easier for doctors licensed in one state to treat patients in other states. The article was clear to point out that the proposed model licensing act would apply to all physicians delivering care, whether in person, by videoconference or using other online technologies. In their article, Medical Boards Draft Plan to Ease Path to Out-of-State and Online Treatment, they went on to explain the need for the dramatic change in current laws, and how physicians plan to meet the rapidly changing needs of many Americans who prefer to use technology to receive their care.
If the model act were adopted by state medical boards, doctors could reach more people, deliver better quality of care and sidestep current requirements to apply for licenses state by state. However, the model act also would preserve the authority of each state to regulate the practice of medicine within its borders. In many ways, this bold statement is just what the doctor ordered. US health care has needed leadership with regard to telehealth licensure. We at TMHI give the FSMB a hearty round of applause for their bold vision and action. Given public demand for health care across state lines, and the sophistication of technology to deliver such care responsibly, we trust that all legislators and regulators will respond in kind.
Why is this action important?
The Federation’s bold action sets the licensure precedent of the decade, and opens the doors to discussions by state licensing groups in all healthcare, including those in psychology, social work and counseling. By offering a model for regulators to consider, discussions will now take place at a much more noticeable rate.
Known as “licensure portability,” the movement toward national licensure has been championed by the American Telemedicine Association for more than a decade. (See the ATA State Policy Toolkit for details.) Similarly, other national groups organized to assist state licensing boards have been educating and advocating for change. For example, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) have all been hard at work on this issue to advance their professions and the people they serve.
The time has come for nationwide health care licensing, much as we have nationwide driver’s licenses. If you’d like to be better informed regarding the issues surround licensure portability and other telehealth issues related to behavioral healthcare, you may be interested in reviewing this 1-hour webinar recording. It comes with
- a CE for most behavioral professionals
- video recording that covers the essential issues and
- several questions from the audience
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