Pass the Nurse Licensure Compact in Illinois in 2020-21!!!

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Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) legislation was initially introduced in Illinois over 10 years ago.  It successfully passes the Illinois Senate every year only to die in the Illinois House of Representatives time after time.  This week, Gov. Pritzker extended the Executive Order 2020-23, now 2020-59 which, to address needs of the COVID 19 pandemic,  including the provision for healthcare practitioners (including nurses) to from other states to practice in Illinois without the need for an Illinois license, recognizing their current license from their home states.

“WHEREAS, the actions that the Secretary of IDFPR may take to increase the number of licensed professionals engaged in disaster response include (a) suspending requirements for permanent and temporary licensure of persons who are licensed in another state, (b) modifying the scope of practice restrictions under any licensing act administered by the Department, and (c) expanding the exemption in Section 4(a) of the Pharmacy Practice Act; “   https://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/Executive-Orders/ExecutiveOrder2020-23.aspx 

This is exactly the concept behind the Nurse Licensure Compact. There are 34 states that have adopted this Compact State Licensure, creating a mobile healthcare population who can practice where the need is without delay or the necessity of executive orders to approve bringing in healthcare resources during emergencies.  Illinois is surrounded by Compact states (WI, ON, IA, MO, KY, TN). States adding NLC legislation this year (in recognition that an emergency can happen anywhere, anytime…lessons of COVID) include OH, PA, MI, AK, CA.

In addition to providing healthcare response during emergencies, the NLC supports non-emergency healthcare as well as the states’ interests.  Telephonic RN jobs are at risk of being moved to Compact states, as the administrative burden of managing 50 licenses versus one license that covers the majority of states (and then adding in the few outliers) is substantially easier and more cost effective for employers and those nurses employed by them.  These jobs are at risk of leaving Illinois (some have already) which will result in decreased resources for the state in tax revenue (both corporate and personal) and decreased opportunities for nurses who may no longer be able to work at the bedside to continue their work of caring for at risk populations through telephonic interventions (the nurse needs to be physically located in the state the patient is also physically in per the Nurse Practice Act).  

NLC passage in Illinois will:

  • Promote patient care coordination across state lines for all patients receiving care in our top performing health care systems
  • Allow nurses to immediately mobilize across state lines to provide care during disasters or public health care emergencies such as COVID 19
  • Incentivize national health care systems to do business in Illinois as current state licensing barriers will be removed which will stimulate nursing job growth
  • Enhance Nurses’ professional skills and development as they participate in cutting edge telehealth field that emphasizes job flexibility, high tech and digital communications

NLC passage in Illinois will produce:

Patient Benefits:

  • Access to modern technology; Enhanced disaster assistance; Choice in Healthcare setting.
  • Access to robust healthcare technology including tele and video calling, texting and emailing.
  • This will also enhance engagement of underserved populations who have mental and physical challenges and are at a higher risk for missing in person medical appointments.
  • Ensures Patient safety. Nurses practicing under the NLC must meet uniform licensure requirements and follow Illinois state practice laws when practicing nursing in the state.
  • Allows for nurses to quickly mobilize during disasters and public health emergencies. 

Nursing Benefits:

  • Equal rights in job location choices
  • Protection of highly skilled and flexible telehealth jobs;
  • Increases employer demand for Illinois nurses since they will possess multi-state license and be able to practice in 35 states instead of one, singular state.
  • Enhances nurses’ quality of life issues as workforce mobility greatly contributes to job flexibility, satisfaction and work / life balance.
  • Supports flexibility for nurses who can’t meet physical demands of in-person nursing through expanding access to employment in telehealth field
  • Allows Illinois Nurses to practice tele-education across state borders such as teaching patients how to manage chronic conditions and care coordination
  • Allows Illinois nurses to communicate with out of state patients receiving care at Illinois hospitals. Illinois nurses presently can’t have clinical conversations with out of state patients unless patient is physically in Illinois.

Conclusion

Illinois must remain competitive in business, support a mobile and modern workforce, and keep striving to be the best in delivering modern health care services. Lawmakers must consider safe, innovative, and smart solutions in working towards attaining our state and national healthcare goals. Passing NLC legislation is a key step forward in meeting this goal. Surveys conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) show the NLC is supported by 80% of nurses, 80% of employers and 66% of union nurses, in addition to a growing list of healthcare professional organizations (https://www.nursecompact.com/index.htm)

 CMSA Chicago asks you to urge Illinois lawmakers to support the passage Nurse Licensure Compact in the 2020-21 Session.  It is time to join the Compact!