House speaker's healthcare reform bills head to governor

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
March 11, 2020

Advanced registered nurses will soon be able to practice basic health care on their own without a doctor's supervision, and pharmacists get expanded treatment options under two bills sent to the governor Wednesday. (Photo: Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Advanced registered nurses will soon be able to practice basic health care on their own without a doctor's supervision, and pharmacists get expanded treatment options under two bills sent to the governor Wednesday.

The hope is to make health care more affordable and available.

Florida has a problem when it comes to health care.

“Half of the state is in poverty and doesn’t have access to health care,” said Senator Kevin Rader.

Right now, advanced nurse practitioners pay a doctor up to $50,000 a year for just signing off on what they are allowed to do.

That requirement will end if the governor signs the bill.

Opponents call it dangerous.

“That old adage, do no harm, is absolutely the key. I believe this bill goes way too far, and will do a significant amount of harm,” said Senator Gayle Harrell.

Seventeen other states give pharmacists expanded scope of practice.

“And not one of them has repealed their laws,” said Senator Travis Hutson.

Thirty states give advanced nurse practitioners the right to practice on their own.

There is no requirement in the legislation to go to either.

“And the doctors can’t be everywhere all the time,” said Senator Aaron Bean.

The advanced nurses were all smiles as their decade long battle ended.

“This means health care access to probably half the state has been improved,” said ARNP Susan Lynch.

Pharmacists say everyone will benefit.

“We have an opportunity to find ways of getting patients access to a health care provider that they didn’t have before,” said Michael Jackson with the Florida Pharmacy Association.

The governor has been skeptical about this bill in the past, but that was before Florida was facing the coronavirus.

Rural areas with limited care are expected to be the first to benefit.

Both bills were the top priorities of the House Speaker, who has fought to reform health care since he was first elected in 2011.

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