Politics & Government

Legislative Briefs: House OKs expansion of nurse practitioners' scope

Proposal for mental health evaluations by teleconference nixed

A bill that would allow mental health professionals to conduct evaluations via teleconference or video was defeated in the state Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said police and other mental health professionals have said in rural communities it is often difficult to find a qualified mental health professional to do an assessment when there is a question about a person's mental competency. Denton said the bill only allows the procedure but does not require mental health professionals to mwake the assessment via teleconference.

But some senators expressed reservations, saying that Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, had expressed concerns that people could interpret the bill to say a woman would not need to have a face-to-face consultation with a doctor before deciding on an abortion.

Four members voted no, four voted yes and one senator voted to pass on the bill.

House passes bill to expand nurse practitioners' scope

Nurse practitioners would be allowed to prescribe non-controlled prescription drugs under a provision that passed the full House on Wednesday.

House Bill 282, sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, would allow advanced registered nurses or nurse practitioners to prescribe some drugs — such as antibiotics — without having a collaborative agreement with a physician. Nurse practitioners would not be allowed to prescribe controlled substances, such as narcotic pain killers.

Supporters say the bill is needed because so many communities in rural Kentucky rely on nurse practitioners for primary care. Hall said that 3,300 people in Phelps use a nurse practitioner.

The Kentucky Medical Association opposed the bill because of concerns that nurse practitioners may not have enough experience to prescribe drugs. The House voted 80-16 to approve the bill. It now goes to the Senate.