Indiana Practitioner Bill Draws Concern from Doctors
INDIANAPOLIS — Some physicians Monday raised concerns about Indiana legislation that would allow nurse practitioners to work without a doctor's direct supervision.
A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who can prescribe medicine and diagnose patients. Republican state Rep. Ron Bacon authored the bill. He said some people in rural areas in his district live up to 30 miles from a hospital or doctor's office. House District 75 is east of Evansville and is comprised large portions of Warrick, Spencer and Pike counties in southern Indiana.
"We want to get them to adequate health care when they need it," Bacon said about his legislation in the House.
Some doctors don't agree the bill will do that, so Bacon pulled the legislation from consideration by the full House on Monday. Bacon said a similar bill has already passed in the Senate. The new plan is to compromise and distill the chambers' legislation into a reworked proposal.
"We're meeting with the physicians' groups," Bacon said. "I've already talked to them this past week. Each of them are going to meet with us and tell us what they want to accomplish with the bill. So, we'll try and get it over the finish line at the end."
Dr. Cheryl Ferguson is not keen on the idea. She has been a pediatrician for 22 years.
"In other states that already have this bill, the nurse practitioners don't go to rural areas any more than physicians do," Ferguson said. "It's hard to make a living in rural areas. There aren't enough people. So, it's really not going to help that problem."
There's another reason these doctors, including emergency room physician Dr. Steve Sample, don't want the bill.
"We think it's really important for all of our patients to have a physician-led team. Nurse practitioners are absolutely a vital part of health care," Sample said. "There's not enough of us (physicians) to go around. Our argument fundamentally is we want the most-educated provider with the most experience to take care of our mothers and our fathers and our kids."
Rep. Bacon said, "This has nothing to do with their training. They have their four-year RN (registered nurse), their 2-3 years APRN (advanced practice registered nurse) with either their master's or doctorate degrees afterward."
Angela Thompson of the Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses of Indiana issued a statement that said in part:
Indiana has the opportunity to bring cost-effective health care change that would favorably impact Hoosiers in our state. It's time to move forward with proven solutions and retire outdated regulations so we can better meet the state’s current and future health care needs. Twenty-two states already allow APRNs the freedom to put their education and training to work to improve the health — and the lives — of residents.
(PHOTO: WISH TV)