Bacon: Improving access to primary care

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Monday, January 14, 2019 11:28 am

With the shortage of primary health care professionals in Indiana, especially in rural areas, I am working to increase Hoosiers’ access to primary care by eliminating regulatory burdens for advanced practice registered nurses.

In their most recent statistics, the Indiana State Department of Health noted that 60 Indiana counties have a shortage of primary care professionals. A 2017 study on the practice of APRNs indicated that with changes like the ones included in my proposed legislation, more than 300,000 Hoosier adults would have better access to primary care.

APRNs are health care professionals who play an integral role in aiding physicians, and are sometimes the only individuals available to diagnose and treat patients at health care facilities. Allowing APRNs to offer more comprehensive primary care to Hoosiers can help alleviate some of the issues associated with our state’s shortage of health care professionals.

Previously, I sponsored a law aligning Indiana with industry standards and modernizing the educational requirements for APRNs, helping them to enter the field more efficiently while still ensuring they are properly trained. To continue building on that progress, my proposed legislation would give APRNs an opportunity to transition into full prescribing authority.

Currently, APRNs with prescriptive authority must work under a collaborating practice agreement with a practitioner to prescribe medication to patients. Under my proposal, APRNs who have operated under a practice agreement for at least one year can begin working without a practice agreement if certain conditions are met.

To meet the conditions, an APRN must have worked under a practitioner who has been licensed for a minimum of five years, and the practitioner must have reviewed at least 5 percent of the APRN’s prescriptive charts throughout the duration of the practice agreement.

APRNs are able to provide vital services for patients and physicians, and I will continue working to support their role in the health care industry. If you have any questions, comments or input on this important issue, I encourage you to contact me at h75@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9643.

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State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75, 
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

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