Bill that would give nurse practitioners more authority may not be heard in committee

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would give certified nurse practitioners more authority may have hit a roadblock.

House Bill 1013 would allow nurse practitioners to write prescriptions without doctor supervision.

Nurse practitioners say it would save them money, and help with the primary care shortage across Oklahoma.

“I own my own clinic, and currently we have to have a supervising physician, which means we have to pay for that service. That’s an expense, and I don’t have very many employees,” Kristi Sager, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, told NewsChannel 4 in February.

Currently, she says she is forced to pay two doctors $1,000 a month.

“If I did not have to hire another supervising physician for me or other providers, I could open up the hours in my clinic and have more providers,” Sager said.

However, some doctors don’t think the bill would translate to better patient care.

“They have a role. They are vital, these physician extenders, but I think we have to understand education is not the same, and so you can’t treat them the same,” Dr. Sherri Baker, a pediatric cardiologist, said.

Last month, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed the bill, sending it to the Senate for approval.

“This will increase access to health care services for those who live in our rural communities where we have physician shortages,” said Rep. Josh Cockroft, an author of the bill. “I’m happy to carry a bill that helps people get the quality of care they need in a timely manner and close to home.”

However, the Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners says the bill may not even be heard by the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

The association says Sen. Ervin Yen has said that he does not support the measure, and can block a possible Senate vote by not allowing it to be heard in his committee.

“There’s no reason not to hear HB 1013,” Toni Pratt-Reid, president of AONP, said. “We understand that Sen. Yen may not personally support it, but we encourage him to allow the bill to have a fair hearing in front of all members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.”

The deadline for Senate committees to hear House bills is April 13.

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