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July 14, 2023

Hawaii Adopts the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)

On June 22, 2023, Governor Josh Green, M.D., of Hawaiʻi signed S.B. 674 into law, which authorizes the State to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC). The IMLC is an agreement among member-states [and territories] to streamline licensure for physicians who wish to practice in multiple states.  The expansion of telehealth facilitated state medical board efforts to expedite traditional licensure processes for qualified out-of-state physicians.

The IMLC became operational in 2017 with the intention to: increase access to health care, recognize the advances in the delivery of healthcare, affirm that the practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located at the time of the physician-patient encounter, increase medical license portability, and ensure patient safety.

Member-states are still solely responsible for the issuance of individual medical licenses. For example, S.B. 674 provides that the IMLC merely “creates another pathway for licensure and does not otherwise change a state’s existing Medical Practice Act.” Member-state medical boards also “retain the jurisdiction to impose an adverse action against a license to practice medicine in that state issued to a physician through the procedures in the [IMLC].” Per S.B. 674, Hawaiʻi joins 37 other states, the District of Columbia, and Guam as members of the IMLC.  Many states are moving towards a more uniform national standard for medical licensure portability to attempt to address the need for accessible health care.  

The question that still remains is whether this adequately addresses a crucial need for accessible health care in the face of a significant physician shortage.  As more states adopt this approach, data should begin to show whether these practices are beneficial and lead to better health care accessibility.

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