Texas Lawmakers Expand Access to Primary Care Services with Passage of SB 406
(Austin, Texas, May 27, 2013) – With the passage of Senate Bill 406 (SB 406), Texas legislators have paved the way to improve access to health care in Texas by making it easier for physicians, advanced practice nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) to work together to deliver much needed primary care services.
This legislation is far-reaching and will facilitate more patients receiving the health care they need by:
- Eliminating the requirement for onsite physician supervision and allowing doctors to delegate drug and durable medical device prescribing authority to an APRN or PA.
- Increasing from four to seven the number of APRNs or PAs to whom a physician can delegate prescriptive authority.
- Improving coordination between the Texas Medical Board and the Board of Nursing and Board of Physician Assistants.
- Allowing physicians to delegate prescribing authority to APRNs and PAs for Schedule II controlled substances in hospitals and hospice settings.
“Our state laws have historically served as a barrier for APRNs and PAs to practice to the full extent of their education and training,” said Sandy McCoy, TNP President. “The passage of this bill shows that our lawmakers realize that demographics are changing and that our aging population, along with the prevalence of chronic diseases and health disparities, must be addressed. SB 406 will allow us to expand access to care to help meet the increased need for primary care providers.”
The numbers in Texas reveal the need for this legislative victory:
- Texas ranks 47th in the country in the supply of primary care physicians.
- 185 counties in Texas are designated as medically underserved.
- The number of primary care providers per 100,000 rural population is significantly less than in metropolitan areas.
- The number of APRNs in Texas is rapidly increasing, having gone from 2,804 in 2001, to 9,713 in 2011.
“We strongly support full practice authority for advanced practice nurses, especially in light of the critical shortages in our medical workforce, and believe in the near future that is what it will take to meet our state’s health care needs,” said Bill Hammond, Texas Association of Business President and CEO. “With that said, we hope the passage of SB 406 will not only increase access, but help rein in costs, and that just makes good sense for all – both from a business, as well as a health care perspective.”