Arizona has a shortage of healthcare professionals. Four bills at the Arizona Legislature are designed to help address the problem.
Arizona’s growing population has created a growing need for healthcare professionals. The Arizona Department of Health Services annually reports the data by census tracts showing communities that meet the following criteria as established by federal regulation. The March, 2015 report which lists Arizona‘s Medically Underserved Areas for primary healthcare providers alone spans 17 pages.
Four bills at the Arizona Legislature are designed to help address Arizona’s shortage of medical professionals by allowing physicians, nurses, psychologists, and physical therapists the option to apply for a “compact license” which allows them to provide their healthcare services in both their state of original licensure (their “home state”) and also in states that have joined the compact.
The bills, sponsored by Representative Heather Carter have passed the Arizona House of Representatives and are now awaiting action in the Arizona Senate. They are:
Healthcare compacts create a pathway to expedite the licensing of physicians, nurses, psychologists, or physical therapists respectively that are seeking to provide their healthcare services in multiple states, improve license portability, and improve access, efficiency and quality of care for patients.
Compacts are not new concept. They cover a wide range of industries and circumstances. One, the Driver’s License Compact, applies to many of us.
The Driver License Compact which applies to all classes of drivers licenses is an interstate compact used by States of the United States to exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forward the information to the state where they are licensed known as the “home state”. Its theme is One Driver, One License, One Record. Arizona was one of the early joiners in 1963. Under this compact, a driver with an Arizona Driver’s License is required to follow the laws of the state they are driving in. Should an infraction occur outside the state, and the driver be convicted in that state, the points and infractions apply to the Arizona Driver’s record just like if the infraction occurred in Arizona.
Licensing Healthcare Professionals at the Speed of Business
Just as the Driver’s Licenses Compact enables transportation and commerce systems across state lines, healthcare compacts provide opportunity to enhance healthcare service delivery. For example, HB2502 (where Arizona would join the Physician Compact) facilitates speedier medical licensure process for physicians seeking licensure in multiple states. This reduces licensing administrative burdens for physicians and their employers while reducing redundant licensing requirements across states. This increased license portability streamlines the licensing process for physicians to obtain licenses in multiple states.
Increased Access to Healthcare Services
Regular preventive healthcare visits and access to care for people with acute or chronic conditions are essential health services. When patients face long wait times in accessing their healthcare professionals, conditions can go undetected or untreated resulting in more serious health problems and increased healthcare costs later. In addition to increasing access to safe, quality healthcare in rural and underserved areas, a healthcare provider licensed through the compact will be able to improve access, efficiency and quality of care by utilizing telemedicine technologies.
Patients are Protected
The Healthcare Compacts protect patients by maintaining Arizona’s authority to regulate the applicable healthcare services provided here in Arizona. In all cases, Arizona maintains its state autonomy and control over the practice of medicine and protecting patient safety and welfare and the practice of medicine or the associated healthcare service will continue to occur in the state where the patient is located.
Arizona Industry Groups support the Healthcare Compacts
HB2362 (Nurses): Arizona Nurses Association, Arizona State Board of Nursing, Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, Arizona Association of Health Plans, Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio), Arizona Chamber, Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association, Arizona Medical Association (ARMA), Arizona Medical Board, Banner Health, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, Dignity Health, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Health Systems Alliance of Arizona, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, The CORE Institute
HB2502 (Physicians): Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, Arizona Association of Health Plans, Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio), Arizona Chamber, AZ Chapter of American College of Emergency Physicians, Arizona Chapter Of The American Academy Of Pediatrics, The Arizona Academy Of Family Physicians, AZ Chapter of American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association, Arizona Medical Association (ARMA), Arizona Medical Board, Banner Health, East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, Arizona Technology Council, Dignity Health, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Health Systems Alliance of Arizona, IOASE, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Tenet Healthcare, The CORE Institute
HB2503 (Psychologists): Arizona Psychological Association, Arizona Association of Health Plans , Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio), Arizona Chamber , Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association , Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Phoenix Children’s Hospital
HB2504 (Physical Therapists): Arizona Physical Therapy Association, AZ Alliance For Community Health Centers , Arizona Association Of Health Plans , Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio), Arizona Hospital And Healthcare Association, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, The CORE Institute
Source: Arizona Legislature RTS System.
Action by the Arizona House of Representatives has provided the vehicle that can deliver greater access to quality healthcare for the people of Arizona. Now, the Arizona Senate has the ability to get on board too before the 2016 session draws to a close.