In response to the mounting nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, one state will allow certain healthcare workers to practice solely on out-of-state licenses. This move may signal similar actions by other states and could have wide-ranging implications for the delivery of healthcare services.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states waived requirements that healthcare providers, including in some cases physicians and nurses, be licensed in a particular state to provide services in that state. Often, states allowed a provider licensed and in good standing in any state to providers services to patients within the state based on the provider’s out-of-state licenses. This regulatory flexibility allowed more efficient delivery of care during the pandemic. The greatest efficiency was likely added to the delivery of telemedicine. Quite simply, there is often no technical or practice-related reason why a provider seeing patients via telemedicine must be licensed in the same state as their patient. By waiving regulatory obstacles, providers could practice across state lines by telemedicine and help deliver care to where it was needed most.
However, most of these regulatory flexibilities were only temporary and have since ended, meaning that physicians and providers again must often be licensed in a state to provide services to patients within that state. However, while these flexibilities have largely ended, the shortage of physicians and other healthcare workers, which pre-dates the pandemic, have only grown more acute during the pandemic. In response to these shortages, Nebraska will allow some healthcare workers, including PT, OT, and SLP therapists, to practice in Nebraska without a Nebraska license if the provider is licensed in another state. This move is currently only temporary and does not extend to physicians or nurses.