ACE, Other Organizations Urge Governors to Cooperate on Health Care Licensing Reciprocity During COVID-19 Pandemic
April 02, 2020

ACE and more than 60 other organizations are asking governors to take immediate action to ensure their states provide reciprocity in licensing of health care and mental health care professionals. This step is crucial to enable these medical professionals to practice across state lines remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter sent Thursday to governors nationwide, ACE and the other organizations note that as colleges and universities have moved to implement physical distancing and shifted to online instruction, remote support of students has become critically important.

“Accordingly, university-based health and counseling centers are implementing telehealth to provide critical health and mental health services to their patients, who in many instances may now be located far from our campuses,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, during the pandemic, state-based licensing restrictions are a significant barrier to this effort.”

In most states, health care providers must have a separate state-issued license in every state in which they provide services to patients. Some states participate in interstate compacts and other states ease the application for licensure but do not eliminate the need for a license in each state (although a nurse compact does provide reciprocity in all participating states).

This means governors need to take immediate action to ensure that remote health and mental health services can be delivered across state lines until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is declared over.

“In order to help strengthen our collective response, we need all governors to take immediate action in their state to temporarily suspend or modify licensing restrictions in the manner set forth below to ensure that sufficient health care and mental health services are available to meet the needs of individuals in their state,” the letter states.

“As COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread throughout our nation, states must take decisive action. Telehealth and telemental health can not only help flatten the curve of the virus by enhancing physical distancing, but also ensure that all individuals in our nation have access to the care they need when they need it.”