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Rep. Todd Novak: Medical licensure change will benefit patients
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Since being given the honor to serve as your state representative, I have strived to focus on health care issues which are important to our communities. I'm pleased to provide an update on one piece of legislation that I co-authored this session, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact seeks to increase access to health care in our state by making more physicians available, eliminating unnecessary red tape and streamlining the licensure process for physicians. This common-sense approach to increasing access to healthcare providers is fully supported by the State Medical Society, the Wisconsin Hospital Association, and the Academy of Family Physicians.

This measure came about in an effort to address the current patchwork of state-by-state medical licensing rules. Such variances present a costly and time-consuming barrier to the practice of medicine for physicians seeking to practice in multiple states. The Compact legislation aims to address this issue by allowing for expedited licensing for physicians who are already licensed in another state. With the Compact in place, physician licensure can take place in a more timely-fashion, while maintaining Wisconsin's high standards and accountability, in order to help ensure providers have the staff on hand they need to treat patients.

One of the main benefits of this bill is that it has the potential to increase access to health care and help address the physician shortage that is impacting our state, especially in rural areas. This effort is especially important to areas close to the border, such as ours, where providers are more likely to be drawing from a pool of physicians from other states.

For example, when one of our hospitals or clinics in southwest Wisconsin is in the process of hiring a physician, it currently can take months, due to redundancies and red tape, to gain approval to practice in our state. This translates into delays in patient care. Furthermore, this hinders the use of telemedicine - a technology we should be focused on promoting, as it allows patients to receive care in their communities rather than traveling great distances. With this in mind, the Compact legislation has the ability to expedite physician licensure and help to ensure patients get the care they need, sooner rather than later.

It's also important to note that under this bill no changes are being proposed to Wisconsin's high standards for physicians. This streamlined multi-state licensing process is entirely optional for physicians and doesn't place any burden on taxpayers.

One of my priorities as your state representative is not only to ensure health care is available and affordable, but also to ensure that state laws and regulation make sense. I am confident this bill addresses both by streamlining physician licensing, reducing barriers to the practice of medicine, and expanding access to the care we all rely on.

At a time when politics have become too partisan and divisive, it's a relief to see this legislation garner widespread support from members of both parties. I am proud to say this bipartisan effort recently passed with nearly unanimous support in the state Assembly and is now being considered by the state Senate. I'm hopeful that this legislation will continue to move forward and allow our communities to realize its benefits.

- Todd Novak represents the 51st Assembly District. He can be reached at 608.266.7502 or email