by Larry Pareles, MD
We clearly have a shortage of doctors in the Commonwealth and it’s even more severe in rural areas like Western Mass. This is due to many factors, including Covid, retirements, and caregiver burnout. There is no easy solution for this, but there is a simple step that could help. One way Massachusetts can make it easier for doctors to come practice here would be to increase physician “portability” by joining the Interstate Medical Licensing Compact (IML Compact).
Currently, doctors who want to practice medicine here must go through a complicated process to obtain a Massachusetts license. Thirty nine states belong to the IML Compact, which makes it easier for doctors to obtain medical licenses from other member states. If Massachusetts were part of the Compact, any physician hoping to practice here who meets our strict standards would have a streamlined licensing process.
All the other New England states participate in the IML Compact, and New York is introducing legislation to join. If Massachusetts joins, doctors from other Compact states could come here and work more easily – a win-win for both patients and physicians.
Additional benefits of joining the IML Compact include making it easier for people who live in communities near other Compact states to see physicians licensed in those states, and simplifying insurance coverage. And Massachusetts patients having telemedicine visits with physicians in other Compact member states might have an easier time getting prescriptions and insurance coverage.
Toward this goal, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox) has filed H.2256, “An Act authorizing Massachusetts entry into the Interstate Medical Licensure 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 to your legislators and urge them to co-sponsor and pass this commonsense law H.2256 to ease our physician shortage. Thank you.
Dr. Larry Pareles is a retired cardiologist living in Northampton, with more than 35 years’ experience in clinical medicine.