Opening more doors
by W. Brian Hale
Jun 11, 2013 | 1221 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gov. Robert Bentley signs into law a bill that will allow physician-nurse teams to more efficiently provide care for the state’s patients and create more jobs in Alabama’s growing health care industry. – Photo Special to the Eagle.
Gov. Robert Bentley signs into law a bill that will allow physician-nurse teams to more efficiently provide care for the state’s patients and create more jobs in Alabama’s growing health care industry. – Photo Special to the Eagle.
slideshow
MONTGOMERY — A bill that will allow physician-nurse teams to more efficiently provide care for the state’s patients and create more jobs in Alabama’s growing health care industry has become law.

SB229 by Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper) builds upon the highly successful collaborative practice model between physicians and nurse practitioners or nurse midwives by extending to nurse practitioners and nurse midwives new prescriptive authority.

“This legislation will open the doors for physicians employing these nurses to be able to more fully utilize their skills and create new job opportunities for nurse practitioners and nurse midwives,” Reed said. “It will also help ensure these nurses educated in Alabama remain in Alabama.”

The legislation was jointly supported by and is the product of several years of discussion between the state’s largest physician and nurse practitioner organizations, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Nurse Practitioners Alliance of Alabama.

It was also a top priority of Sen. Del Marsh’s “Streamline Alabama Initiative.”

“What this means for patients, particularly those in rural or underserved areas, is an expanded access to care without sacrificing quality,” said Rep. Ron Johnson of Sylacauga, House sponsor of the legislation. “Everyone will benefit.”

Under SB 229, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives in a collaborative practice with a physician will be able to prescribe Schedule III-V drugs, which includes certain types of steroids, pain relief medications and cough medicines, to name a few. Currently, they can only prescribe legend drugs, which are not controlled or “scheduled” drugs.

“The cooperative spirit in which this legislation was crafted speaks volumes. In the Legislature, you often see opposing sides facing off against each other. Rarely, however, do you see organizations coming together to jointly support legislation that will positively affect so many people,” Medical Association Immediate Past President Michael Harrington, MD, and Nurse Practitioner Alliance President Joy Deupree, PhD, APRN-BC, a nurse practitioner, said.

David Jones, a nurse practioner and executive director of the Capstone Rural Health Clinic in Parrish, expressed his gratitude for the Alabama legislation and Gov. Robert Bentley in their efforts in getting SB 229 signed as a law, calling it a “great triumph for Alabama healthcare.”

“Nurse practitioner’s and other participants in health delivery systems are thrilled at the bipartisan support and passage of both the aforementioned house and senate bills,” Jones said. “This legislation improves access to literally thousands of patients who often have to wait to get medication they need without having extended waiting times, especially in rural locations. Alabama has for so long lagged behind other states in expanding scope of practice for advanced practice nurses and others health professionals in the state. We commend the governor, Sen. Reed and Sen. Marsh on their efforts to get this legislation passed and signed into law.”