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Nurse Practitioner Scope Of Practice Bill Passes Senate

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Nurse practitioners could care for patients and prescribe medications without a doctor’s supervision under a bill that passed the California Senate Thursday.

Democratic Senator Ed Hernandez has tried for years to allow more medical professionals to provide primary care, given a significant doctor shortage. This bill would expand what’s called the “scope of practice” of nurse practitioners.

“There are decades of evidence showing that they’re safe and effective in other states,” Hernandez said during the bill's Senate floor debate Thursday. “Other states right now are increasing their scopes to address the workforce shortage.”

But his efforts have failed in the face of strong opposition from doctors. This year, he may be getting closer.

Some senators abstained, telling Hernandez his bill just needs a little more work. ”It's very close to being supportable,” said Republican Senator Tom Berryhill. ”I just don't think it's quite there yet.”

A few others voted no, including Republican Senator Patricia Bates: “I still remain concerned about allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe drugs – and now independent of physician supervision.”

Senators sent the bill to the Assembly on a 25-to-5 vote.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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