Kentucky Governor Signs Bill to Increase Consumer Access to Care
On February 13, 2014, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill (SB) 7 into law, expanding access to health care for Kentuckians, many of whom live in areas with a shortage of primary care providers. The passage of SB 7 means that Kentuckians will have improved access to high quality primary care and medications, such as antibiotics, anti-hypertension, cholesterol, insulin, and diabetes medicines. Specifically, the law allows advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with four or more years of experience to prescribe routine medications without being required to have a written agreement with a physician. APRNs will still need a written agreement to prescribe controlled substances.
Since the launch of Kentucky’s nationally lauded health insurance exchange website, more than 123,500 Kentuckians have enrolled in new health coverage, including Medicaid and private insurance. These newly insured consumers will be in search of primary and preventative care services amidst the severe physician shortage across the majority of the state’s counties, 73% of which have partial or full designation as primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). This new law is a part of the solution to the provider shortage because it enables many more consumers to access care provided by nurse practitioners.
After signing the bill into law, Governor Beshear sent the following tweet:
Kentucky State Senator John Schickel, who co-sponsored SB 7, stated in a recent article that the bill was “an important measure aimed at increasing accessibility to health care in Kentucky…This comes after years of dedicated effort and I was proud that the first bill to land on the governor’s desk this year was one that eases burdens on patients and their practitioners.”
The ceremonial signing of this bill into law, the first to be signed in the current legislative session, occurred on February 26. Congratulations to Kentucky patients, nurses, and the many stakeholder groups, including AARP Kentucky, who helped to support this important legislation!