To the editor:

Rarely comes along a truly bipartisan opportunity to make life better and cheaper for all Kansans. Urging your legislators to pass HB 2066 allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent that their education, license and experience allows is one of those opportunities. It’s being voted on this week so contact your legislator to let him know of your interest and support.

HB 2066 has been “in committee” for nearly 10 years and would allow Kansas primary care nurse practitioners to join 22 other states (some quite liberal, some very conservative) and federal agencies that already allow NPs to provide medical care to the extent of their license. This is saving the feds and those states millions of dollars while simultaneously increasing access to care, especially for rural areas, the uninsured and the poor.

In Kansas, NP full authority has been and still is opposed by the quite powerful medical doctor lobby who seek to maintain their power and monopolistic control while at the same time using NPs on their staffs to see the same patients they do for one-fifth to one-third of the cost. Simply put, most MD offices and hospitals would be bankrupt or couldn’t function without the NPs that staff them. Despite this fact, for more than 10 years the MD lobby has pushed baseless fears and innuendos in the Legislature of NP inexperience, patient safety and lack of NP education/experience. Always calling for “more studies” all of the MD lobby’s allegations have been debunked and proven baseless in multiple academic and research studies, most especially in the 22 states and federal government that allow NP full practice. NP’s focus on the best possible care for patients and national studies show that NP care is safe, quality care and provides the same or better outcomes and care by physicians. NPs are trained to refer patients to other physicians and specialists when needed, just as physicians are.

NPs already have their own license obtained through years of medical education (master’s degree and doctorates) as well as hands-on, bedside experience in clinics, medical offices and hospitals. The bill does not change an NP’s scope of practice but does remove mandatory collaborative practice agreements that many MDs are unable to or refuse to sign despite charging the NPs for the “privilege.” Besides, having their own license, NPs carry their own malpractice insurance so collaborative agreements are unneeded and act only as control over NPs. Personally, I think this is a true women’s rights issue as most NPs are women and most docs are men. Finally, NP full practice would be a way to increase access and decrease health costs for Kansans whether or not Medicaid is expanded. 

Contact Reps. Pittman, French, Karleskint and Dove to support the common sense bill.