Governor Heineman vetoes nurse practitioner bill

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Updated: Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:14:58 CST

Nebraska Lawmakers ended their legislative session last Thursday, but, five days later a bill to address rural healthcare needs has been vetoed by Governor Heineman.

Now, the bill is dead, and lawmakers won't be able to override his decision this time.

The bill passed last Thursday, the final day of the session by a 43 to 0 vote.

It would have eliminated the integrated practice agreement between nurse practitioners and a physician.

Supporters including nurse practitioners say the bill can help provide healthcare to rural areas.

"I was heartbroken, I was very sad." Said Heidi Bergen a nurse practitioner.

Heidi Bergen is a certified nurse practitioner at Mary Lanning's Community Health Center.

She travels three days a week to work at a rural medical clinic in Edgar.

Disappointed by Governor Heineman's veto of the nurse practitioner bill, she says his decision will only make access to healthcare more difficult in rural Nebraska.

"It's very hard to recruit anyone to a rural area, and healthcare is scarce in some areas." Said Bergen.

Some residents of Nebraska have to drive upwards of 50 miles to access a healthcare provider.
Right now, NP's must sign a practice agreement with a physician in order to work in a rural clinic.

"The way I look at it, is just a piece of paper, a piece of red tape you have to get through." Said Bergen. 

LB 916 would have eliminated that requirement and creates a transition to practice agreement...
Requiring 2,000 hours of supervised practice.

In a statement released Tuesday by Governor Heineman, he said, "the bill as presented to me goes too far too quickly."

Citing the state's Chief Medical Officer who said the legislation creates potential safety issues for patients.

"I think it is a slap in the face because we are not supervised. As a nurse practitioner we are independent practitioners." Said Bergen.

NP's are certified clinicians, who can perform physicals, prescribe medication and treat patients.

Many, like Bergen say the collaborative practice agreement is a barrier to practice.

"It is hard to find physicians to sign that agreement with people." Explained Bergen. "This physician may never step foot in that clinic, they may not be in the state."

 Grand Island State Senator, Mike Gloor  says he's bothered by the Governor's decision, saying he's sure if there had been another day in the session lawmakers would have overridden the veto.

An entirely new bill will have to be introduced next session.