Allow Interstate Compact for Medical Licensure

Testimony by Russell Thomas, DO

House Public Health Committee
House Bill 661 by Rep. John Zerwas

Madam Chair, members, I am Dr. Russell Thomas. I am a family physician from Eagle Lake. On behalf of the Texas Medical Association and our nearly 50,000 members, I am here to testify in support of House Bill 661.

The goal of the legislation is to make it easier for qualified physicians to obtain medical licensure in multiple states…. in an expedited, streamlined manner. This may have a several benefits, including increasing physician participation in telemedical care. And it may well increase our ability to attract physicians to relocate and practice in our state.

To be eligible, physicians must have graduated from an accredited U.S. medical school or a recognized international medical school; passed each step of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX-USA), or an equivalent, within three attempts; successfully completed an accredited graduate medical education program; obtained board certification; and have no restrictions on their license and prescribing authority. An informal estimate from the Texas Medical Board indicates 70-75 percent of Texas physicians would be expected to qualify.

What the interstate compact is:

  • It is another way — it is an add-on — for physicians to obtain a license in another state. It is not a replacement for the current application process in any state.
  • By setting the standards for who is eligible to seek licensure through the compact process, it ensures a quick process. The granting states under the compact will forego primary source verification, which is the lengthiest and most administratively demanding part of the process.
  • It is an administrative agreement among the states to quickly share applications and data for qualified physicians among the compact members for licensure.

What the interstate compact is NOT:

  • It is NOT a mechanism that cedes any authority over the practice of medicine to any organization or to any other state. Licensure of Texas physicians will always remain the sovereign responsibility of the Texas Legislature — through its laws — and the Texas Medical Board — as the licensing agency established by our statutes.
  • It is NOT a means for establishing Maintenance of Certification by a specialty board as a requirement to be licensed to practice medicine in Texas. Nor will it ever require specialty board certification as a prerequisite for medical licensure. The Texas Medical Association would oppose this bill if this were the case.
  • It does NOT alter the requirements of medical licensure in Texas. Every physician — whether licensed by individual application or licensed through the compact process — must take and pass the medical jurisprudence test.

The compact is based on the core principle that the practice of medicine takes place where the patient is, NOT where the physician is. Furthermore, the physician who is practicing in Texas, who is caring for Texas patients is subject to the laws of Texas — all the laws — as they relate to medical care.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the committee. I am happy to answer questions.


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Last Updated On

April 27, 2018

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