In an effort to prevent adoption of the Compact, some critics have resorted to distorted and misleading public statements about its provisions. Here are a few of the myths that have come up along the way — along with the real facts.
FACT: The definition of a physician in the Interstate Compact relates only to the eligibility to receive a license through the process outlined in the Compact. The Compact definition does not change the existing definition of a physician in a state’s existing Medical Practice Act, nor does it change the basic requirements for state medical licensure of a physician seeking only one license within a state or who chooses to become licensed in additional states through existing processes.
FACT: In order for the Compact to be acceptable in ALL states, the definition of a physician was drafted by state medical boards in a manner that meets the highest standards already required for expedited licensure or licensure by endorsement (many states already have standards in place for expedited licensure or licensure by endorsement that require specialty-board certification.)
FACT: Physicians who do not meet the requirements, including those not specialty certified, are still eligible to apply for state medical licensure in a member state through the current process. Initial estimates show that up to 80% of licensed physicians in the U.S. could be eligible to participate in the Compact, if they choose to do so.
FACT: The Compact makes absolutely no reference to Maintenance of Certification (MOC) or its osteopathic counterpart, Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC). The Compact does not require a physician to participate in MOC at any stage, nor does it require or even make mention of the need to participate in MOC as a licensure renewal requirement in any state. Board certification is only an eligibility factor at the initial entry point of participation in the Compact process.
FACT: The full and unrestricted medical license issued by a state to a physician through the Compact expedited process is the exact same license as would have been issued through the traditional licensure pathway. Once a physician is issued a license via the Compact from a state, he or she must adhere (as now) to the existing renewal and continuing medical education requirements of that state. No state requires MOC as a condition for licensure renewal, and therefore, this will not be required for physicians participating in the Compact.
FACT: The Compact reflects the effort of the state medical boards to develop a dynamic, self-regulatory system of expedited state medical licensure over which the participating states maintain control through a coordinated legislative and administrative process. Coordination through a compact is not the same as commandeering state authority. It is the ultimate expression of state authority.
FACT: Some of the groups that are distorting the facts about the Compact are contradicting their own policies and goals: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), for example, which is now criticizing the Compact, has supported interstate compacts as solutions to other multi-state-based legislative challenges in the past.
FACT: The Compact clearly states that it would not change a state’s Medical Practice Act. From the Compact’s preamble: “The Compact creates another pathway for licensure and does not otherwise change a state’s existing Medical Practice Act.”
FACT: The Compact also adopts the prevailing standard for state medical licensure found in the Medical Practice Acts of each state, affirming that the practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located at the time of the physician-patient encounter.
FACT: State participation in the Compact is, and will remain, voluntary. States are free to withdraw from the Compact and may do so by repealing the enacted statute. The withdrawal provisions of the Interstate Compact are consistent with interstate compacts currently enacted throughout the country.
FACT: The process of licensure proposed in the Compact would reduce costs, streamlining the process for licensees. Rather than having to obtain individual documents for multiple states, which is both expensive and time consuming, member states can rely on verified, shared information to speed the licensee through the licensing process. Licensees would have to pay the fees set by their state in order to obtain and maintain a license via the Compact, just as with licenses currently obtained via current methods. The Compact is not an example of regulatory excess but an example of regulatory common sense.
FACT: A state’s existing Medical Practice Act and related regulatory laws apply once a physician obtains state licensure through the Compact. Therefore, a physician licensed by a state via the Compact pathway MUST abide by all of the laws, rules, and regulations of that state where the patient is located and the practice of medicine occurs.