Lawmakers Look to Nurse Practitioners to Make Healthcare More Accessible
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)- South Carolina ranks as one of the worst in the country when it comes to access to healthcare, scoring an “F” on the United Health Foundation’s report card. Lawmakers want to change the rating by making medical help accessible to everyone.
Medical professionals gathered at the statehouse Wednesday to support bill S.345. Senator Tom Davis, a sponsor of the bill, said it will remove restrictions from nurse practitioners, allowing them to provide medical services without being supervised by a doctor.
“A law that restricts somebody from providing something they are trained to provide is an unjust law and must be changed. That’s what this law is all about,” the Beaufort Republican said. “The current law that requires physician supervision in a 45 mile radius like you have a chain on you does not make any sense in today’s day and age.”
Certified family nurse practitioner Stephanie Burgess said current law is not only inconvenient, it is also risky for patients.
“Two summers ago, my physician died unexpectedly and I was serving a rural community. I could not find another physician in that community who would be my physician and I could not find one who met the parameters for the law. So I could not go back and see those patients,” Burgess said.
According to DHEC, most of our counties are considered medically under served. Burgess said nurse practitioners can help fill the gap if law is passed. “The last three years when Medicaid beneficiaries went to the emergency room for primary care complaints, that cost the state $150 million, that’s a lot of money. So if we can provide a way for them to access primary care, that will help them stay out of the emergency room,” said Burgess.
The bill was debated in subcommittee Wednesday. Senator Davis and Governor McMaster both believe this bill will eventually become law.