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Nurse Practitioner Measure Stalls in California Assembly

Aug 6, 2013

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The push to change California law to allow nurse practitioners more independence from doctors suffered a major setback today in an Assembly committee. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more.

The Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection voted down the measure, but the bill’s author says he wants it reconsidered.  Democratic State Senator Ed Hernandez says lifting restrictions on nurses would help meet a new demand for primary care under the Affordable Care Act, especially in areas without enough doctors.

“Nurse practitioners understand when it is appropriate to refer, just like an optometrist, just like a dentist, just like a general practicing physician,” says Hernandez.

Hernandez’ bill had been amended during intense lobbying efforts - but Dr. Paul Phinney of the California Medical Association says CMA still could not support it.

“What the bill would do would break down the cooperation, the tight cooperation between physicians and nurse practitioners,” says Phinney.

A bill to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice passed the same committee. It will be heard next in the Assembly Health Committee.