Resolving Roadblocks to Activating Additional Physicians

5 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020

See all articles by Edward Timmons

Edward Timmons

West Virginia University - Department of Economics

Peter Wei


Date Written: May 6, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic is creating acute shortages of healthcare providers in crisis areas. Although research has highlighted that both pharmacists and nurse practitioners can play a greater role in assisting with the crisis, doctors nevertheless remain the most highly trained health professionals and are sorely needed.

In this policy brief, we highlight the roadblocks that insurance companies and the licensing process continue to present to physicians trying to respond to the crisis. To alleviate these challenges, we make the following recommendations: (1) Many insurers have not yet agreed to even begin credentialing physicians holding out-of-state licenses; Medicare is not credentialing physicians with out-of-state licenses either, unless those physicians have current Medicare privileges. Insurance companies should follow Medicare’s example immediately. (2) State licensing boards should have a mandate to process licenses expeditiously, with a set maximum processing time, to ensure adequate supply of physicians in their state. (3) States should continue recognition of out-of-state physician licenses as a permanent reform.

We believe the solutions offered in this piece will help alleviate the strain today and help moving into the postcrisis world.

Keywords: Medicare, healthcare, coronavirus, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, public health, economics, quarantine, economy, economic crisis

JEL Classification: I00, I18, H51, H75, I30

Suggested Citation

Timmons, Edward and Wei, Peter, Resolving Roadblocks to Activating Additional Physicians (May 6, 2020). Mercatus Special Edition Policy Brief, Available at SSRN: or

Edward Timmons (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - Department of Economics ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

Peter Wei


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