Wisconsin Patients Encounter Issues With Virtual Visits Originating In Minnesota
Living in a border-community, it's common-place for many to "cross-the-bridge" for work, entertainment, and health care. Superior boasts a hospital and multiple clinics - but many of the doctors and physicians assistants available from those institutions are home-based in Duluth. At the same time, many Wisconsin-residents are used to crossing the border to Duluth (and Minnesota) to see a doctor - simply because the facilities are larger - which provides more options and capacity. This situation has created headaches for many since the COVID-19 Pandemic started and virtual office visits became the new normal - as patients have found out that many physicians aren't licensed to practice medicine in their state.
At the heart of the issue is the state of origination and whether or not a health care professional is licensed to practice medicine in that state. To better understand the situation, let's use an example: Patient Jane Doe - who lives in Superior. In the past, Jane Doe was able to attend an in-person appointment with her doctor at one of the Duluth health care facilities (i.e. clinics and hospitals). Since COVID-19 shut things down - and the medical world switched to virtual visits, Jane has been seeing her doctor (who's in Minnesota) via a virtual visit from her home (in Wisconsin). This poses a licensing issue; it was fine when Jane came to Minnesota to have a Minnesota-license doctor see her, but now that Jane is in her home in Wisconsin, that same Minnesota-licensed doctor isn't allowed to see her.
Wisconsin legislators are aiming to correct the situation for the current pandemic and any other emergency situations that might arise in the future. According to news sources, State Representative Nick Milroy has introduced legislation to right-side the issue:
"Under the bill, an individual who holds a valid, unexpired license in another state would be allowed to practice as a physician, physician assistant, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, psychologist, social worker, or other health care-related professional during an emergency. The same would be true for those who held a credential in Wisconsin within the last five years for one of those professions."
The aim of the legislation is to erase the state line issues for healthcare. This is especially important to residents of border communities like the Twin Ports who usually go about their lives without giving that state line a second passing thought.