The South Carolina state Senate Committee on Medical Affairs approved a bill to join an interstate compact synchronizing licensing regulations governing emergency medical technicians (EMTs) with those of 12 other states.
The legislation would enter South Carolina into the Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Interstate CompAct (REPLICA), which allows EMTs licensed in any of the participating states to provide services in the others.
The Senate version of the bill was approved by the committee on April 19, after the House of Representatives passed the legislation on April 5. The bill awaits action by the full Senate.
Synchs Licensure Standards
Lindsey Stroud, the state government relations manager for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News, says the agreement would allow EMS technicians to take a single licensing exam for multiple states.
“The REPLICA compact would allow EMS personnel to work in remote states after completing their license in their designated home state,” Stroud said. “Currently, in states that have not passed REPLICA, EMS personnel are required to pass the licensing boards of each state prior to being able to work.”
South Carolina state Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville), sponsor of the Senate bill, says the legislation would help increase the ease of moving and working in the state for EMTs.
“If an EMT wants to move to South Carolina, we need to [reduce] the barriers to entry,” Timmons said. “If they are licensed in other states, and it is sufficiently rigorous, I don’t see any reason to force the EMT to undergo additional training.”
Increasing Patients’ Access
Stroud says the compact would help promote access to health care.
“REPLICA will increase access for patients by reducing regulations,” Stroud said. “Many emergency medical service personnel already work across borders in emergencies. REPLICA will end barriers created by government regulations and have the market determine the number of personnel employed.”
The state already participates in many interstate cooperative agreements, Stroud says.
“South Carolina is currently involved in 32 different compacts, including the Driver License Compact, the Health Care Compact, and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact,” Stroud said. “REPLICA would be ideal for South Carolina, as it will expand access to EMS personnel for many across the state, as well as be beneficial for persons in rural areas, where there is limited EMS personnel. REPLICA also provides greater oversight of EMS personnel. Member states will be required to participate in a coordinated database and share licensure information.”
Timmons says supporting the bill was an easy decision.
“Ultimately, long-term, it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Timmons said. “I don’t think that training is sufficiently different from area to area to warrant additional requirements. Each jurisdiction is very different, but I don’t think states are sufficiently different as it relates to emergency medical services. I don’t think it’s is an industry that warrants barriers to entry that are different state by state.”