On two consecutive days at the state Capitol this week, physicians from around the state took the time to share their opposition to legislation (SB 394 and AB 396) that would allow advanced care registered nurses (APRN) to practice independently. The physicians shared their expertise at a Senate Health committee public hearing on Wednesday and then again at today’s Assembly Health committee public hearing (which was ongoing at press time).
Mark Grapentine, JD, testifying at Capitol hearing
The Wisconsin Medical Society also testified against the proposal, pointing out that Wisconsin’s status as a national health care quality leader is supported by physician-led, team-based care. The Society joined with eight physician specialty societies and the state’s two medical schools on testimony warning legislators that the legislation as proposed would remove physicians from the health care equation where APRNs are diagnosing, treating and potentially prescribing completely independently.
Crowded room at Capitol hearing
The testimony also highlighted the education and training differences between physicians and APRNs, and cited studies showing how non-physicians tend to prescribe more opioids and antibiotics, order more procedures like imaging and biopsies and refer patients to specialists more often than physicians do. To help counter the claim that independent APRN practice will bring health care access to the state’s underserved communities, the testimony included workforce data maps from the AMA showing how APRNs tend to work in the same areas as physicians, even in states allowing independent APRN practice. While the physicians’ testimony was impressive, the hearing rooms were filled with nurses who brought their own studies claiming that nursing care can be higher quality than care from “more expensive” physicians.
Both bills will be eligible for committee votes following this week’s hearings. But with the State Legislature not scheduled to meet for full floor action until late September, physicians still have time to contact their State Senator and State Assembly Representative to register thoughts on the bills and to explain how physician-led care is a vital component boosting Wisconsin’s overall health care system. You can find your legislators’ contact information on the State Legislature’s home page and typing your home address into the “Who Are My Legislators” box. You can also read more about the bills in previous Medigram articles.
Contact Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD for more information.
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