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Shirkey and Yonker introduce legislation increasing access to health care

Shirkey200x300LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Mike Shirkey and state Rep. Ken Yonker have introduced legislation to define the scope of practice for specially trained nurses in an effort to increase access to health care throughout the state.

Senate Bill 68 and House Bill 4207 would allow for “advanced practice registered nurses” (APRNs) to play a more prominent role in our health care system, a move that would improve health care quality and help ensure better access for patients through prevention and wellness services, care coordination and quality assurance.

“These bills meet a growing need for increased access to health care, but most importantly we are potentially increasing access to rural and underserved areas,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “We can’t afford unnecessary wait times for people to receive the medical care they need.”

The bills would also establish a “Health Resource Shortage Area Fund,” which would provide grants for APRNs who agree to serve in official Health Resource Shortage Areas. The fund is completely self-sustaining through the APRN licensure change and does not use any state funds. A taskforce would also be created with the board of nursing to ensure proper oversight and compliance with all laws.

“Advanced practice registered nurses are an extremely valuable part of our health care system,” said Yonker, R-Caledonia. “Allowing them a scope of practice that enables them to fully use their talents, within their training, will help ease a shortage of primary care physicians and will lead to more options and lower costs for patients.

SB 68 has been referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee. Shirkey indicated that committee hearings could begin as early as the end of the month.