Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony Regarding Senate Bill 153, An Act to Ensure Timely Physician Licensure

Testimony Regarding Senate Bill 153, An Act to Ensure Timely Physician Licensure

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) wishes to offer comment relative to Senate bill 153, An Act to ensure timely physician licensure. 

MMS strongly supports initiatives to ensure timely, efficient review of physician licensure applications. MMS hears regularly from physicians, physician organizations, and hospitals about the importance of timely, consistent licensure processes at the Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM). MMS recognizes the critical nature of the Board of Registration in Medicine’s responsibility to ensure that all physicians licensed in Massachusetts are well-qualified and thoroughly vetted. We appreciate that all physician licensure applications do not look the same, and that some come with complexities that warrant additional scrutiny. While we do not desire to oversimplify the process or undermine BORIM’s responsibility and authority, we wish to highlight the corresponding frustration from the physician community: undue delays and inconsistencies can affect the ability to recruit the best physicians in the country to practice in Massachusetts. 

We have heard specific examples of this concern, such as a community health center that was unable to hire a psychiatrist that they had recruited for nearly a year because the psychiatrist became frustrated from the licensing delays in Massachusetts, and so took a job in a state that had licensed him more expeditiously. We have also heard concerns from residency directors who were unable to begin critical instruction to their medical residencies on day one of the residency because of delays in the limited medical licensing process.

MMS has been engaged in a two years long initiative to improve the efficiency of the end-to-end physician credentialing process- that is, the several months long process from when a physician begins the BORIM licensure process until the moment they are licensed to practice ( 3-7.5 months) and prescribe, credentialed by hospitals and payers, and ready to see patients. A report commissioned by MMS, MHA, MAHP, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts reported that this end to end process can take upwards of 8-16 months. MMS has been pleased to see improvements in several areas of this process, such the Department of Public Health’s project to move the Massachusetts Controlled Substance Registration program online to reduce the turnaround time. However, more work needs to be done.

MMS has also been pleased with ongoing conversations about the licensing process with leadership from the Board of Registration in Medicine and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Certain areas for improvement have been identified and implemented over the past year. We hope these fruitful conversations continue to bring meaningful change to the licensing process through significant reductions in the average initial application turnaround time. 

MMS commends Senator Hinds for raising this issue of timely physician licensure. We strongly support the intent of this bill, and we look forward to working with the Legislature, with the Secretary’s office, and most importantly, with the Board of Registration in Medicine, to work collaboratively, with urgency, to meaningfully improve the licensure process.   

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