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Looking for Medical Help Across State Lines

February 2, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. – An agreement among a number of states could help improve access to health care, especially for rural residents. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact could allow more doctors to see patients across state lines.

Erik Nelson, advocacy director for AARP South Dakota, says his organization has been talking with state lawmakers about the program.

"This is a compact that a bunch of states across the Midwest are looking at passing at the state level, and it would allow them to come together and kind of ease and speed up licensing for medical doctors across state lines," Nelson explains.

The proposal, from the Federation of State Medical Boards, has been introduced into the legislatures of 10 states.

Some questions are being raised about the details, including how and whether Medicare and Medicaid would reimburse doctors for services that aren't provided through a traditional office visit.

Nelson says the compact could increase the number of doctors available to seniors and others in rural areas.

"And in our rural areas of the state, we do see a lot of patient care happening in other states, and from our angle, this would definitely improve tele-health, and tele-medicine opportunities, an industry that has grown a lot in the last 10 to 15 years," he adds.

Nelson says AARP is convinced that if South Dakota joined the compact, it would improve health care access across the spectrum.

The bill to allow South Dakota to join the compact, SB 63, has passed the Senate, and will next be heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD