Healthcare providers across behavioral and related disciplines have long seen licensure as a barrier to telehealth growth. Practitioners are seeking to not only develop their specialty niche and make themselves available to more patients but also to companies seeking to create multi-state services. Regardless of the discipline, the fetters of outdated and often contradictory state regulatory requirements have led to growing discontent with existing interjurisdictional barriers as well as a focused effort on the part of many disciplines to keep up with 21st century lifestyles.
This spring, significant progress has been reported by a number of groups who have been diligently working on these issues for years. Within counseling, the influential groups banning together to form The National Counselor Licensure Endorsement Process include the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), the Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
An overarching goal of the initiative is to move the counseling profession toward unified education standards, exam requirements and post-graduate experience requirements. It will promote acceptance of out-of-state licenses when the individual is in good standing and meets other specific licensure criteria.
In related fields, physicians, psychologists and physical therapists are making significant progress with their licensure portability efforts.
For physicians, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) offers a new, voluntary expedited pathway to licensure for qualified physicians who wish to practice in multiple states. While making it easier for physicians to obtain licenses to practice in multiple states, the compact strengthens public protection by enhancing the ability of states to share investigative and disciplinary information. The IMLC is an agreement between 18 states and the 23 Medical and Osteopathic Boards in those states. Under this agreement licensed physicians can qualify to practice medicine across state lines within the compact if they meet the agreed upon eligibility requirements. Approximately 80% of physicians meet the criteria for licensure through the IMLC.
For psychologists, the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PsyPACT) is an interstate compact, which is an agreement between states to enact legislation and enter into a contract for a specific, limited purpose or address a particular policy issue. Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico have approved the PsyPACT. Texas, Illinois and Rhode Island have pending legislation. Four other states have it endorsed by their licensing boards. PsyPACT becomes operational when seven states fully enact it. See a map of states with approval and track progress of PsyPACT here.
Other allied healthcare disciplines have also made recent progress, setting important precedents. For example, see the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact.
Licensure portability will no doubt advance telehealth for mental health and addiction service providers.