Bills Suggest Bigger Role for NC Nurses in Health-Care Access
Friday, March 15, 2019
SPRUCE PINE, N.C. - Nurses and nurse practitioners would play a bigger role in North Carolina's health-care system under some new legislation.
A bipartisan bill that has the support of more than 60 state lawmakers would make access to basic health-care services easier by cutting red tape for advanced-practice nurses and nurse practitioners. Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Spruce Pine, said he introduced Senate Bill 143 so that nurses can provide more primary-care services in areas that need it most.
"Representing a rural area in western North Carolina, one of the challenges we find is that it's very difficult to recruit primary-care doctors to our region to practice," he said. "We really have a gap in people being able to access services, and this really allows us to use nurses to fill some of that gap."
Companion legislation, House Bill 185, is being carried by Rep. Josh Dobson, R-Marion.
Critics have pointed out that nurse practitioners receive less training than doctors and may not be fully prepared to work without a doctor's supervision. However, Hise said the need is great. Rural North Carolina has higher rates of drug and alcohol use, suicide and teen births, plus more uninsured patients and preventable hospitalizations. These areas also face a shortage of almost every type of provider.
"This is work that nurses already do," he said. "The requirements right now - they have to constantly be under a doctor's supervision in order to do that. This bill would allow them to operate in hours that they may not currently be able to, because there's not a doctor there, and would move them more into working to a team approach with their doctors."
Twenty counties in the state don't have a pediatrician and 26 don't have an OB-GYN, according to the North Carolina Health Professions Data System. Hise said the bills don't change what nurses are allowed to do, but lets them work within their current scope without unnecessary restrictions.
AARP North Carolina is one group lending its support to the bills. State president Cathy Sevier said it's a matter of the rising demand for health-care services, due in part to an aging population that's growing, even as the number of primary-care doctors is shrinking.
"Nurse practitioners, advanced-practice nurses in all of the fields - midwifery, anesthesia, clinical nurse specialists - all provide the level of care in a much more affordable way, and very safely," she said.
The Senate bill is working its way through the Rules Committee before being considered by the Health Care Subcommittee in coming weeks.
Texts of SB 143 and HB 185 are online.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …
Health and Wellness
BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …
OGDEN, Utah - Utah is one of only a handful of states that taxes food, but one state legislator says taxing groceries should become a thing of the …
CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …
BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …
PITTSBURGH - As businesses across the country deal with a massive labor shortage, Pennsylvania aims to entice people back to the workplace by …
ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Mike Parson is facing calls to get the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission off the ground after it was created by the …