Nurse Licensure Compact Takes Effect in January

It’s official: The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) will be taking effect on January 19, 2018. As mHealth Intelligence and others first reported, with the vote of legislators in North Carolina to formally join the compact, bringing the total membership to 26, it will go live early next year, offering welcome news for nurses seeking to practice telehealth across state lines. (Lawmakers in two additional states are also considering legislation that would cement their membership in the compact.) “Boards of nursing were the first health care profession regulatory bodies to develop a model for interstate licensure, and we are looking forward to the implementation of this new phase of nursing regulation,” National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) CEO David Benton said in a statement after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed legislation bringing his state into the compact.

First adopted in 1997 and updated in 2014, and overseen by the NCSBN, the compact had stipulated that it would take full effect when a majority had ratified it, or on December 31, 2018—whichever came first. “We have made great strides in unlocking access to nursing care across the nation and are thrilled to begin this process,” NCSBN CEO Katherine Thomas said in a statement following North Carolina’s vote. The compact has earned the support of organizations like the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), which has praised its potential to facilitate the practice of telehealth across state lines. In 2015, ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous argued that the compact’s ratification “will empower nurses to participate in and benefit from a variety of innovative service delivery models featuring a multidisciplinary team approach to provide and coordinate a patient’s care.” Added Linkous, “Patients will reap the ultimate rewards of these efforts.” (CTeL, too, has endorsed the eNLC.)

As we reported earlier this summer, the eNLC isn’t the only licensure compact well on its way to taking full effect. In April of this year, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which allows physicians to practice in multiple states, officially took effect, though its implementation has been held up in some places due to concerns over background checks. Per the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which oversees the compact, 25 states thus far have officially joined; an additional three states, along with the District of Columbia and Guam, are currently considering legislation to do the same. And as mHealth Intelligence noted earlier, 13 states have so far given their stamp of approval to the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact; three states have also officially joined the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PsyPACT), with legislators in an additional six states are considering membership. As with the eNLC and the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, these agreements also allow for license portability across state lines.

Click here to read the article from mHealth Intelligence on the eNLC rollout. 

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