From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo
Today the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee approved a bill that would allow nurse practitioners (APRNs) to prescribe drugs and practice without collaborative practice agreements.
The bill approved by the committee placed the contents of SB 454 into an unrelated holdover house bill from last year, and is now known as Senate Substitute for HB 2279. Assuming the full senate approves the bill, the committee action basically positions the bill for a simple up or down vote by the House of Representatives, bypassing any public hearings on the measure in either the Senate or the House. Although nursing groups are supportive of the bill, the political heft and momentum for it is largely provided by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which has made it a key issue for the business community statewide. The business group argues it will reduce health care costs, improve access in rural areas, and remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to practice for nurse practitioners, which they contend are basically interchangeable with physicians.
For three decades now, nurses have sought to expand their scope of practice to eliminate physician direction and oversight of APRN patient care entirely. KMS has offered numerous approaches to address nursing concerns about collaborative practice agreements and independent nursing practice, all of which have been rejected by the nurses. KMS believes that education and training matter when it comes to patient care, and that a physician-directed care team is the best way to ensure high quality, safe patient care. Unfortunately, the politically potent business community that is driving this issue in the legislature doesn’t see it that way, even though by overwhelming majorities Kansans believe it is important to have their care provided by physician-directed teams.
We expect the full senate to debate Senate Substitute for HB 2279 sometime later this week or early next week. We’ll keep you posted on further developments, and would encourage you to continue to contact your senators and representatives with your concerns about this legislation. While KMS remains willing to find a path forward for independent nursing practice, we do not support allowing non-physicians, including APRNs, to practice medicine and surgery.