NPs Gather for Annual Capitol Day, Texas Tribune Panel
Friday, March 13, 2020
Posted by: Erin Cusack
On March, 6, almost 300 nurse practitioners from across the state gathered in Austin for Texas Nurse Practitioners’ Capitol Day. Throughout the day, nurse practitioners took a deep dive into policy and regulatory issues, picked up some tips for how to communicate effectively with legislators, and listened to a legislative panel with Representative Donna Howard and Representative Stephanie Klick on hot topics in healthcare for the upcoming Legislative Session.
Texas Tribune’s CEO and co-founder Evan Smith moderated the panel on healthcare. The opening topic on everyone’s minds that day: coronavirus.
“I think Texas nurse practitioners are about as prepared as you can be for something that’s so unprecedented,” nurse practitioner Jessica Peck began.
The first coronavirus case was first declared by the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China. The virus has now spread across the world – restricting travel services and shutting down schools, university classes, workplaces, and events, among other things.
Those infected with the virus have been placed in quarantine and treatment, while many other people have taken it upon themselves to self-quarantine out of fear of the outbreak.
“The difficulty is going to be access to those providers and access to those laboratory exams and making sure people are quarantined as they need to be,” Representative Donna Howard said in response to coronavirus concerns.
Another hot topic discussed during the panel was healthcare accessibility, specifically for Texans in rural areas. One solution proposed by the legislative panelists: allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their training and education.
Smith said there are three million people in rural Texas, more than the population of 18 states.
“Everyone who has a role, should be able to play a role,” Smith said.
Nurse practitioners face a very restrictive practice environment in Texas. Texas law requires them to sign a contract with a delegating physician in order to practice. Nurse Practitioners are also dually regulated by the Texas Medical Board and the Texas Board of Nursing, creating a web of burdensome, labyrinthine regulations for them to navigate.
“Texas has some of the most restrictive licensing laws in the country,” Representative Stephanie Klick began. “As a growing state, we need to take off the handcuffs and let medical professionals do what they were trained to do.”
Klick said anytime supply is restricted with licensing laws, the cost is increased and access to care is reduced.
See coverage of the event and footage of the panel here.