September 2, 2014

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Kentucky Coalition asking for help Print E-mail

Dear Editor,

As nurse practitioners working in every corner of Kentucky, we are keenly aware of what goes into the state's dire health statistics. Nationally, Kentucky ranks among the worst in diabetes, obesity and cancer, and towards the bottom in the number of primary care physicians practicing in the state. That's a bad combination.

In fact, in many of our state's 87 medically undeserved areas, a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife is the only full-time primary care provider. In light of these facts, we should be doing everything we can to expand and improve access to health care.

Instead, a paperwork requirement is aggravating the shortage. In order to write prescriptions for routine medications, nurse practitioners must have a prescribing agreement with a physician. It's a piece of paper that sits in a file in a drawer. The agreement doesn't require the physician to see our patients, consult with us or be liable for patient care.

The problem? Without that signed piece of paper, we can't prescribe the most basic medications, leaving patients without the care they need. With an unblemished, 17-year track record of appropriate prescribing, we believe this paperwork obstacle should be removed.

Please ask your legislators to support Senate Bill 51 to remove this paperwork requirement and improve Kentuckians' access to health care.

Jason Gregg, APRN, Falmouth and Julianne Ewen, APRN, Lexington  and President, Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Widwives