Public Hearing Held on Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Bill; Physician Truth-In-Advertising Bill

May 25, 2023 10:34 AM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)

On May 24, the Wisconsin Senate Health Committee held a public hearing on two critical bills being lobbied on by the Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology (WAO): Senate Bill 145, the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) bill, and Senate Bill 143, the physician Truth-In-Advertising bill.

Of course, the Wisconsin “House of Medicine” – through the Wisconsin Medical Society – had a strong presence at the public hearing and articulately voiced our opposition to the APRN bill in its current form. The bill would implement extensive independent nursing powers for APRNs, including the authority to prescribe medications and the ability to practice independently without physician collaboration.

During the testimony on AB 145, the physician community made it clear that there is a path to a compromise on the bill with nursing stakeholders, but any agreement must include the following provisions:

  • Require four years of real-world, team-based care experience before an APRN can advance to practice independently. Current law does not allow for independent practice.
  • Include “Truth in Advertising” title protection language in the bill to help ensure patients better understand who is providing the care they need.
  • Ensure that a physician specializing in pain medicine collaborates with independent APRN clinics (those not directly connected to a hospital or health care system) so that complex pain medicine for patients can be provided more safely.

As expected, the nursing community came out in full force to testify in favor of the bill. Their messaging was also predictable, as they spoke about their training, ability to fill gaps in the health care workforce, and the capacity of advanced practice nurses to practice independently. They said Wisconsin needs to catch-up with the 27 states that allow advanced practice nurses to practice without physician collaboration.

Throughout the hearing, which became heated at times as lawmakers peppered the physician community with hard-hitting questions, the “House of Medicine” remained composed, stressing the important role nurses play in a physician-led health care environment, but also insisting on the need to include critical patient safety guardrails in the legislation.

Although the hearing on the Truth-In-Advertising bill (SB 143) was a bit shorter, it was not necessarily less contentious. Thie bill, which would provide practical patent safety measures by restricting non-physicians from using certain words, terms, letters, or abbreviations that would characterize them as a physician, is “supported” by Wisconsin Nurses Association as part of a broader compromise on the APRN bill. However, testimony in opposition to the bill was offered by nurse anesthetists, chiropractors, and optometrists.

According to their comments, they believe the bill restricts them from communicating their health care experience, expertise, and services to patients. In fact, a chiropractor testifying alongside a representative from the Wisconsin Optometric Association, said optometrist are primary care providers – who routinely perform surgeries – and the legislation would not recognize their training, experience, and role in the health care system.

On the flip side, despite skepticism by several lawmakers on the committee over the need for the bill, the physician coalition provided strong comments, expressing the importance of the proposal for patients, who are often confused about the qualifications of different health care professionals. The legislation will allow them to better understand when they are receiving care from a physician or from a non-physician provider.

CLICK HERE to review the  written testimony the physician community – including the WMS, the WAO, and several other specialty physician groups – submitted to the committee.

Future editions of the WAO Advocacy Newsletter will provide members with on update on the status of both bills in the legislative process, as well as the results of ongoing negotiations with other stakeholders, lawmakers, and the Governor’s office.

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