WHA, Members Testify Together at Senate Hearing in Support of Medical Licensure Compact in Wisconsin

March 19, 2019

An important step was taken last week to make permanent Wisconsin’s status as a medical licensure compact state. During a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee March 14, Mercyhealth testified along with WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk in support of Senate Bill 74, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Reauthorization Act.

WHA was a strong supporter of the initial compact legislation in 2015 which has allowed Wisconsin to successfully implement the compact. In fact, Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to issue licenses utilizing the voluntary expedited process made possible by this interstate licensure agreement.  

When the compact was signed into law, the Legislature required a trigger for review of the law in 2019. This was required to evaluate the benefits of Compact membership. According to Zenk’s testimony, those benefits are clear due to physicians increasing their utility of the Compact, with the number of applications using the expedited process doubling in Wisconsin’s second year of implementation.  

Hospitals also value the process as a resource to extend access to care. As Kelli Cameron, Director of Physician-Provider Recruitment and Retention for Mercyhealth in Janesville, noted in her testimony, “The Compact ensures that physicians extending telemedicine services, or other in-person specialty services, can cross Compact state lines without undergoing a duplicative single-state licensing process.”

Gundersen Health System also testified in support of maintaining Wisconsin’s status as a medical licensure compact state. Anna Dix, Gundersen Credentialing Specialist, noted in her testimony, “The process is seamless and not only improves efficiency, but helps attract new providers.” Dix added, “With the Compact assisting in expediting the licensing process, more specialists can provide more services to our outreach areas in a timely manner.”

The advantage the compact provides in bringing physicians to Wisconsin to practice is important. “With a runway to practice of 12 or more years and 400 Wisconsin physicians retiring each year, our state must take advantage of every strategy available to increase the supply of physicians,” said Zenk to members of the Committee. “The interstate medical licensure compact is an important tool to grow Wisconsin’s health care workforce and ensure access to Wisconsin’s high-quality health care in all corners of our state.”  

As one of the bill’s authors, Rep. Nancy VanderMeer noted in her testimony, “Access to care, that’s what [the Compact] is all about.”

Senate Bill 74 is authored by Sen. Patrick Testin and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer. The bill has over 60 lawmakers either co-authoring or sponsoring the legislation. After receiving committee hearings and committee votes, the legislation will move to the floor of the full state Assembly and Senate. 

For additional information on Wisconsin’s physician compact legislation, contact Ann Zenk at 608-274-1820. Individuals who want to stay up to date on this and other important legislation, as well as take action on those issues, should contact WHA’s Kari Hofer or join WHA’s grassroots advocacy program, HEAT.

This story originally appeared in the March 19, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter