By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would temporarily authorize board-certified nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialists with at least two years of supervised practice to operate independently from an overseeing physician until 90 days after the governor revokes the state of emergency. The Board of Registration in Nursing would have the authority to waive the two-year experience requirement, if necessary, to increase access to these nurses during the current state of emergency.

The bill also enables pharmacists to better coordinate with healthcare teams and engage in a broad range of patient services beyond filling prescriptions including performing health and wellness tests, managing chronic diseases, performing medication management and administering immunizations.

“As doctors come down with the virus, as they will, we need to make sure there are people who can step in and perform a number of functions,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “That includes prescribing medicines, ordering tests and, in some cases, admitting patients to a hospital.”

“The passage of this vitally important piece of legislation is critical to bolstering our healthcare workforce and helping our healthcare system during this public health crisis,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Thank you to Sen. Friedman for her hard work and thank you to our heroic healthcare workers who are going above and beyond to keep us safe in these incredibly difficult times.”

Supporters know the bill will likely not be approved by the House where it is opposed by the leadership. “We’re not going to do it,” said House Majority Leader Ron Mariano (D-Quincy) said. “I don’t think we should be rushing legislation through in reaction to a truly unprecedented crisis.”

Opponents also noted the governor has the authority to issue an executive order mandating everything that is in the bill.

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