WHA and Members Testify at Assembly Hearing

Support of Medical Licensure Compact in Wisconsin helps create access

July 16, 2019

Wisconsin is one step closer to making permanent the state’s place in the medical licensure compact. During a meeting of the Assembly Committee on Health on July 10, SSM Health Dean Medical Group, Mercyhealth, and Stoughton Hospital testified along with WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk in support of Assembly Bill 70, 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 clearly illustrated by physicians increasing their utility of the Compact. The number of applications using the expedited process doubled 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.”

SSM Health Dean Medical Group also testified in support of maintaining Wisconsin’s status as a medical licensure compact state. Kate Kaegi, Senior Leader Physician, Provider and Leadership Talent, reflected Dean’s experience.

“Having the Compact process available can bring licensing timelines down to four weeks, rather than what could be four months or more.” Kaegi added, “Not only does the Compact help when we are able to recruit physicians to our group, the expedited process has also been key to filling temporary gaps in our physician workforce using locum tenens providers.”

The advantage the Compact provides in bringing physicians to Wisconsin to practice is important as Wisconsin residents seek needed health care. Chris Schmitz, Stoughton Hospital’s Vice President of Human Resources, noted, “Delays in licensing create delays in patients getting care; each delay builds on and compounds the other.”

“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 in her Committee testimony. “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, Representative Nancy VanderMeer noted in her testimony, “This voluntary process creates efficiency for physicians, health care organizations and state agencies, and that creates access to care, which is vital, especially in rural and underserved areas.

Assembly Bill 70 is authored by Rep. VanderMeer and Sen. Patrick Testin. The companion bill, Senate Bill 74, was passed by the Senate in June. The bill has over 60 lawmakers either co-authoring or sponsoring the legislation. After receiving an Assembly committee vote, the legislation will move to the floor of the full Assembly. Once approved by the Assembly, the legislation will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

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 Vice President of Advocacy Kari Hofer or join WHA’s grassroots advocacy program, HEAT, at https://www.wha.org/Advocacy/HEAT.

This story originally appeared in the July 16, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter