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Support nurse practitioners

Published: Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: It’s puzzling that a state Senate that two years ago fell over itself to allow non-doctors to perform eye surgery would balk at freeing nurse practitioners from a feudalistic mandate that has an unclear, if any, impact on patient care.

In 2011, we opposed allowing optometrists to perform laser surgery because the proposal had not been studied, had been tried in only one other state and would inevitably mislead many patients. It flew through the Legislature, nonetheless, greased by campaign contributions from optometrists.

Kentucky’s nurse practitioners already routinely prescribe medicines; each side cites the historic lack of problems with NPs prescribing as evidence that it is right.

The Kentucky Medical Association also stresses that federal health care reform encourages doctor-led teams as the best way to deliver care and control costs.

But independent NPs would not conflict with doctor-led teams. Instead, nurse practitioners would be a vital part of such teams, and the collaboration would be genuine.

Kentucky doesn’t have enough primary-care doctors or nurse practitioners and should be encouraging both.

Senate Bill 43, which was amended in the House to free nurse practitioners from having to pay doctors what amounts to tribute, cleared the House 70 to 16.

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