Patrick Ishmael

Today the Show-Me Institute released our latest health care policy paper, "Demand Supply: Why Licensing Reform Matters to Improving American Health Care." The paper looks at supply-side health care reforms, particularly those dealing with physician licensure.

Making health care more available and affordable requires attention not only to health insurance and care demand; it requires that we also take a hard look at provider supply, and try to find ways to expand the care opportunities available to patients that are currently obstructed, unnecessarily, by government.

Physician licensure reform is an important step toward that end. There are over 900,000 state-licensed physicians in the United States, and yet today only about 3% of those doctors can substantively see Missouri-based patients, thanks to the way our current physician licensure system works. The paper's argument is straightforward: if you are a medical doctor who is licensed and in good standing in your home state, Missouri should not be stopping you from practicing in our state and helping Missouri-based patients.

With the maldistribution of primary care physicians we see both nationally and at the state-level, there are many underserved communities in Missouri that would benefit from the opportunities of interstate licensure, especially in the telemedicine context. Importantly, rather than pursue a system like the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact promoted by many state medical boards, policymakers should look at the Nurse Licensure Compact as a guide to making care by a physician more available and affordable to Missouri patients.

The paper builds on our previous work with the direct primary care and Medicaid reform issues. 

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.