Lawrence Pareles: Make it easier for doctors to come here

Published: 11-27-2023 3:55 PM

Modified: 11-27-2023 6:25 PM

We clearly have a shortage of doctors in the commonwealth and it’s even more severe in rural areas like western Mass. There is no easy solution for this, but there is a simple step which could help. One way we can make it easier for doctors to come practice here would be by increasing physician “portability” by joining an interstate licensing compact agreement.

Communities across the state are experiencing a real shortage of doctors due to many factors, including COVID, retirements, and burnout, but here is one way to help. Doctors who want to practice medicine here must go through a complicated process to obtain a Massachusetts license. Currently, 39 other states belong to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IML Compact), which makes it easier for doctors to transfer their medical licenses from other member states.

Joining the IML Compact would let qualified doctors from other Compact states get medical licenses here. Any physician hoping to practice in Massachusetts who meets our strict standards could have a streamlined process to get licensed here faster.

Our neighbors (including Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine) all participate in the IML Compact. If Massachusetts joins it, doctors from other Compact states could come and work here more easily, a win-win for both patients and physicians.

Additional benefits of joining the Compact might be to make it easier for people living in communities near other states to see physicians licensed in those other states, and to simplify insurance coverage. And Massachusetts patients having telemedicine visits with physicians in other states (which are members of the Compact) might have an easier time getting prescriptions and insurance coverage, too.

Toward this goal, Rep. Pignatelli, D-Lenox, filed H.2256 “An Act authorizing Massachusetts entry into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact,” to have us participate in the Compact. We should pass this bill soon to increase our supply of doctors. There would be significant advantages and no downsides to doing this.

Please write your legislators and urge them to pass this common-sense law H.2256 to ease our physician shortage by helping more physicians get licensed here.

Lawrence Pareles

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