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Bill seeks simpler path to multistate M.D. licenses

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Doctors and hospitals urged support Friday for a bill that would make it simpler and faster for physicians to become licensed in multiple states.

What is now an eight-month process could be shortened to a few weeks if Minnesota joins the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. Supporters say the compact would increase access to medical care at a time when doctors are expanding their geographic reach through telemedicine.

Dr. Steve Ommen, medical director of the Center for Connected Care at Mayo Clinic, said specialists are often called upon to advise doctors treating critically ill patients in other states. But the collaboration hinges on whether the specialist on duty has a license to practice in that state, Ommen said.

"If you happen to live on the wrong side of a state line, the physician who is providing care that day might not be able to offer those services," he said. "So this is where Mayo Clinic sees this state licensure compact as being the right step to provide more patients the opportunity to avail themselves of highly specialized care."

Seven states need to adopt the compact for it to go forward. Three states have already done so.

Friday's hearing was the bill's first in the Minnesota House. A companion bill in the Senate has already passed through several committees.