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House Bill 177 will improve health care in rural Ohio

DEAR EDITOR:

I am writing today to urge our state legislators to support House Bill 177, the Better Access, Better Care Act, which will serve to expand health care access across Ohio, and especially in rural and underserved areas.

Today, almost 1.5 million Ohioans live in areas of our state that the federal government has deemed to have a shortage of health care providers. For a state that is home to multiple world-class health systems, it is unimaginable that we rank just 35th in the nation for measures of health care access and quality. It’s unacceptable.

HB 177, along with its new sub-bill Sub. HB 177, will benefit communities all across Ohio by ensuring that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) can deliver the patient care they were educated, trained and licensed to provide. Under current Ohio law, APRNs are required to sign a mandatory contract with a physician, known as the Standard Care Arrangement (SCA), in order to practice.

In many cases, including in rural areas of the state where the need is greatest, it is difficult for APRNs to find physicians with whom they can contract, resulting in their inability to serve a community in need. The SCA, serving as little more than a “permission slip” to practice, has already been removed in over 27 states — including eight of the top 10 healthiest, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best State Rankings.

Passage of HB 177 will increase access to care across the state, especially in rural areas where patients must either travel long distances for care or forgo care altogether. House Bill 177, along with its sub-bill, will create more opportunities for Ohioans to access the health care services they need where they need them most.

Ohio can and should do better for our residents. I hope our legislators agree and will pass HB 177 without delay.

DR. JESSE V. MCCLAIN, DNP, APRN,

Canfield