Senate also rejects nomination of Medical Examining Board chair for another term
The Wisconsin State Senate approved legislation October 17 that would allow certain advanced practice nurses (APRN) to practice independently. The full senate vote on Senate Bill 145 was 23-9, with 21 Republican senators joined by Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) and Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) in support. Eight Democratic senators opposed, joined by Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac). The bill now moves to the State Assembly, where support for the bill in its current form is much less certain.
The Wisconsin Medical Society (WisMed) and numerous physician groups have been calling on the legislature to improve the bill in key areas:
- While the bill as introduced would allow an APRN to practice independently after just two years of clinical experience, physicians believe a minimum of four years would better serve patients seeking comprehensive care.
- Current law regarding the collaborative agreements CRNAs must have with a physician when providing pain medicine does not require that physician to have experience or training in that complex area.
- “Truth in Advertising” provisions are needed to ensure patients understand the credentials of the health care professional. Terms like “radiologist” or “anesthesiologist” have historically connoted a physician’s specialty but are often used as modifiers by non-physician professions. This item in particular is one Governor Tony Evers has stated is necessary for a bill to be signed into law.
Senate Democrats introduced an amendment during floor session that would have addressed these concerns. That amendment failed on a 23-9 vote. Interestingly, after the Democrat amendment was posted and awaiting debate, the bill was moved to the foot of the calendar, delaying discussion. In the interim, SB 145 author Sen. Pat Testin (R-Stevens Point) introduced his own amendment, which increased the nursing experience requirement from 2 to 3 years and added certified nurse midwives to the list of APRNs who would be covered by the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund. That amendment passed on a voice vote.
Now is the time for physicians to weigh in with their State Assembly representatives on SB 145. You can find your state assembly representative’s contact information on the state Legislature website in the “Who Are My Legislators?” section. Legislators greatly benefit when they hear from constituents who understand how patients are best-served through team-based care, and that any movement away from health care teams warrants a reasonable and deliberative approach.
State Rejects Sheldon Wasserman, MD, for another term on the state medical board
The senate also took up dozens of gubernatorial appointments during its floor session, including Gov. Evers’ nomination of Sheldon Wasserman, MD, for another term on the state’s Medical Examining Board (MEB). The senate rejected Dr. Wasserman’s nomination on a party-line 22-10 vote, the Republican majority prevailing. Dr. Wasserman had been serving as the MEB’s chair; the rejection immediately removed him from the MEB. No majority member spoke about the rejection during floor session, leaving questions unanswered as to the reasoning for the removal, but it is assumed a key reason is the MEB’s involvement in litigation asking the Dane County Circuit Court to declare the state’s 1849 law criminalizing abortion invalid. Dr. Wasserman was elected to seven terms in the State Assembly, serving from 1995-2009.
Gov. Evers issued a press release soon after Dr. Wasserman’s and other nominations had been rejected, including to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse.
Coincidentally, the MEB had its regular monthly meeting the morning after the senate’s action, and Dr. Wasserman attended as a member of the public. He thanked Gov. Evers and the Department of Safety and Professional Services for their work supporting the MEB and expressed how rewarding it has been to serve. Both physician and public members of the board took turns praising Dr. Wasserman’s tenure and mentorship of new members, mentioning how politics had never entered into any of the MEB’s deliberations.
“I may be back,” Dr. Wasserman told the MEB. “Keep a seat warm for me.”
Contact WisMed Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD for more information.
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