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Eliminating Nurse Practitioner Rule Could Ease Pressure On Doctors

A 2013 statewide study found the Kentucky is suffering from a doctor shortage at a time when more Kentuckians are gaining health insurance.

With close to 420,000 Kentuckians signing up for insurance through Kynet, many for the first time, officials hope a new law taking effect Tuesday will take some of the pressure off of already overworked physicians.

Previously, nurse practitioners prescribing certain medications had to have what’s called a “collaborative agreement” with a doctor. That meant that a physician was aware that the nurse practitioner was prescribing medications, but it also discouraged some from expanding their services.

"The smaller clinics that are in places like Phelps, KY or rural areas always were in fear or worried about the fact that they would have to close their door because of their collaborative agreement being voided - because someone may have died or retired," says Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives president Julianne Ewen.

The new law does away with the requirement for nurse practitioners who have had collaborative agreements for at least four years, removing one hurdle for those wishing to start their own practice.

The change comes as more than 100 new pieces of legislation go into effect this week.