A bill sponsored by state Senator Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll, has passed the upper chamber, aimed at modernizing the professional nursing law to permit qualified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Certified Nurse Practitioners to practice independently of a physician.
The vote Wednesday was 44-6, according to a state website. Among the “no” votes were Republican Majority Leader Jake Corman of Centre County and Kim Ward of Westmoreland County.
These health professionals would have to fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a physician to practice on their own.
Current law requires nurse practitioners to practice under a collaboration agreement at all times.
According to Bartolotta, her bill would especially help rural residents.
“Many patients in my district in Beaver, Greene and Washington counties face travel times measured in hours, not minutes, for critical appointments, if they can find someone to treat them at all,” Bartolotta said in a news release.
Nearly 35 percent of Pennsylvanians live in an area or population group that lacks adequate access to primary care, but, according to the senator, studies have shown that patients who are treated by nurse practitioners have results similar to those of patients who are treated by physicians.
Those who have supported the bill include the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Governors’ Association, and the Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders.
Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C., have already adopted full practice authority for the practitioners.
Similar legislation was approved by the Senate in April 2017 by a 39-10 margin, but the bill did not come up for a vote in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 25 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.