by Scott McClallen
Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township, introduced a bill that aims to allow nurses who meet uniform licensing requirements to work in person or through telemedicine in more than 30 states.
“If Michigan were to become a part of the compact, only one license would be necessary for nurses to practice in Michigan or in any of the many other states in the compact,” Whiteford, a former nurse, said in a statement. “State-by-state licensure is incredibly time-consuming, especially for multiple license holders who wish to use telemedicine.”
House Bill 4046 seeks to allow Michigan to enter the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which would enable nurses to practice in the 37 states currently in the compact without having to gain a license in each state.
A 2017 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study projects varied supply and demand of full-time equivalent registered nurses in different states.
The study projected seven states would have an RN shortage in 2030, including California, 44,500; Texas, 15,900; and New Jersey, 11,400.
Other states were projected to have an excess RN supply in 2030, including Florida, 53,700; Ohio, 49,100; and Virginia, 22,700.
The NLC could reduce those disparities with enacted or pending legislation in all but 13 states.
Each NLC state can still revoke, suspend or place a nurse’s multistate license on probation if warranted.
Michigan Health and Hospital Association spokesperson John Karasinski told The Center Square the industry group supported the bill “to help increase the supply of nurses practicing in Michigan while maintaining a high quality of care.”
Karasinski said the multistate license would allow RNs to practice in their states and other NLC states to provide additional flexibility to the healthcare community.
“Shortages of nurses, as well as physicians and other healthcare professionals, has been a critical issue felt across the country, including Michigan, since before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Karasinki said in a statement. “The pandemic has only made the situation worse, as the market for trained and accredited nurses has intensified. Hospitals and clinics attempting to hire nurses are sometimes thwarted by the number of professionals available. In addition, the nursing shortage is expected to worsen after the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bill critics argue that the quality of medical care could suffer because of state training differences, and Michigan would bear additional fees.
“The Michigan Nurses Association Board has voted to oppose Michigan becoming a compact state because we want to maintain the high standards that Michigan has for nurses who practice here,” MNA President and RN Jamie Brown previously told The Center Square. “In the compact, it’s a matter of the lowest common denominator among states. Patients deserve better than that.”
The bill reached Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk in December, but she vetoed it without explanation. Whitmer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) previously estimated $115,000 in total associated costs for investigating complaints against nurses who live in other states but practice in Michigan, processing licenses, and monitoring investigation repayment costs.
LARA estimated an annual $250,000 rule enforcement cost for the Attorney General and the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of registered nurses to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.