Nurses praise House advance of independent practice bill

A coalition of groups pushing for nurse scope of practice expansions lauded a House committee for advancing a bill that would allow nurses to practice independently of physicians.

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday advanced the bill, HB 607.

The measure has been a longtime priority for nurses as well as bill sponsor and Republican Rep. Cary Pigman. Pigman, a medical doctor, says allowing nurses to open independent practices will increase access to affordable health care, especially in rural areas.

The legislation is also a top priority for House Speaker José Oliva, who reiterated his support for the change earlier this week, and many major business groups.

After the voteFloridians Unite for Health Care praised lawmakers for advancing the bill to the House Health & Human Services Committee, its final stop before the chamber floor.

“On behalf of the Floridians Unite for Health Care coalition, we thank the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee for advancing Representative Pigman’s bill that will allow Advance Practice Registered Nurses to practice to the full extent of their education and training,” Floridians Unite for Health Care spokesperson Nicole Livanos said in a news release.

“The majority of states across the nation have already recognized how APRN full practice is beneficial to meeting the increased demand for health care providers. With Florida having 278 areas with primary health care shortages, there is no better time than now for Florida to become the next state to pass this meaningful legislation. We look forward to seeing this good bill continue to advance through the process.”

Floridians Unite for Health Care is a coalition comprising the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists (FANA), Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners (FLANP), Florida Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses (FLCAPN), Florida Nurses Association (FNA), Florida Nurse Practitioner Network (FNPN) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The leaders of some of those constituent organizations also issued laudatory statements.

“It is time for Florida to finally catch the law up with the practice. Historically, our laws did not contemplate the evolution to the sophisticated education and training APRNs receive today,” FANA President Jose Castillo III said. “The safety and well-being of our patients is paramount, and there are many independent studies that show APRNs can safely and effectively provide some of the same health care services as physicians.”

FNPN Region 4 Director Vicky Stone-Gale added, “I am thankful to the members of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee for passing HB 607 out of its committee today. We are encouraged by the support this legislation, that would provide more Florida families with access to safe and quality health care, is receiving. In Florida, there are more than 32,000 licensed APRNs who are qualified to step up and help our state’s 30 rural communities that are currently underserved. We hope that this legislation not only broadens health care opportunities for patients but encourages the growth of the nursing profession as a whole.”

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