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July 1, 2009

State Licensure and Professional Monopolies in Medicine

JAMA. 2009;302(1):35. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.907

To the Editor: In their Commentary on professional monopolies in medicine, Drs Baerlocher and Detsky1 might have mentioned the institution of state licensure of physicians in the United States. Whatever its value in ensuring that only qualified, competent, and ethical physicians are licensed to practice medicine in each state, the current system hinders the mobility of many physicians, effectively circumscribing the geographic range of their practice.2 Whether this narrowing of competition and choice distorts the cost of medical care is presently unknown because of a lack of useful data.