On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation authorizing the State of Alabama to join an interstate medical compact. The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan), will allow Alabama to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a national agreement that expedites the ability of physicians to be licensed in multiple states, a much-needed solution to address physician shortages. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a national shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2025. Alabama is the seventh state to join the compact, making the compact now operational, upon Governor Robert Bentley’s signature.
“This compact opens the door for more doctors to practice medicine in Alabama, which will improve medical care in under-served and rural areas,” said Senator Reed. “I’m glad to sponsor legislation that will give patients increased access to healthcare. Our state and country’s population is rapidly aging, and the compact will help address the dire physician shortage we face.”
Currently, it can be a difficult process for a physician in one state to become licensed in a second state. The proposal to join the compact was supported by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Alabama Hospital Association. So far, West Virginia, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Montana have signed the compact. Legislation similar to Alabama’s is pending in eleven other states right now.
“The Interstate Medical Compact will be a shot-in-the-arm to Alabama’s ability to attract the most highly qualified physicians to practice here,” stated Ron Franks, M.D., immediate past president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama.
By expediting the licensure process for the best doctors through the compact, Alabama will create a state-based solution to expanding access to get patients the care they need. This is important because the economic footprint of just one new doctor in a community is approximately a million dollars.
“The Alabama Hospital Association supports this compact because it will speed up the process of issuing licenses for physicians who wish to practice in more than one state, while ensuring quality of care is a priority in approving those who seek licensure through the compact,” said Mike Horsley, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “It will improve licensure portability and enhance the state’s ability to recruit physicians to rural Alabama.”
Senate Majority Leader Reed represents District 5, which includes all or parts of Fayette, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston counties.