On Tuesday, Nov. 19th, the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health held a seven-hour public hearing on multiple scope of practice bills. Our legislation, S.1079 and H.2009, consumed about four hours of the Committee's time with testimony in support and opposition.
In addition to verbal testimony presented by Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton), our House bill sponsor, many organizations submitted testimony in support, including: AARP of Massachusetts, Atrius Health, Organization of Nurse Leaders (ONL) and the Massachusetts Association for School-Based Health Care. MCNP and MANA had two panels of presenters who covered who you are, what you do, the rationale for the legislation and why it is needed at this time.
Organized Medicine had a total of 15 physicians and one NP who appeared in person to testify against the bill. They insisted that the patient needed physician supervision of NPs and CRNAs because your education and training pales in comparison to theirs. There was no evidence presented, just anecdotal statements. Some of the misinformation we heard: • You make referrals to specialists that are unnecessary. • You don't know how to diagnose ear infections or perform EKGs. • When there is a disagreement whether to extubate a patient, it should be the physician in the end to have the final authority to decide what is safest for the patient.
After debriefing together, the leadership of MCNP and MANA acknowledge it was very difficult to hear these inaccurate statements. However, this debate is NOT about your competence to practice. Defending ourselves against unjust accusations or making accusations of our own with legislators only serves to distract from the real discussion we have initiated by filing this legislation. From a political perspective, we would only make real what we defend. In the end, Organized Medicine would get what it's looking for - a legislative debate over your competence to practice.
We are grateful to two state representatives on the committee who are nurses and were capable of keeping the discussion focused by posing specific questions to the physicians who testified. Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton) and Rep. Denise Garlick (D-Needham) made the following inquiries: • Why is organized medicine opposed to NPs and CRNAs practicing to the full extent of their education and training? • Why do they disagree with the Institute of Medicine's report recommending that we be authorized to practice without these barriers? • Who is billing for the services rendered by NPs and CRNAs? • Do doctors review every referral made by an NP now? • Are CRNAs being allowed to utilize their prescriptive authority?
If you are a constituent of one of the members of the Joint Committee on Public Health, you may want to send a thank-you note to them acknowledging that the hearing went well and asking if they have any questions about the bill after reviewing the testimony presented. A list of legislators on the Committee with a link to their contact information can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Joint/J16
Below is a link to a new fact sheet for you to read and become familiar with in responding to any questions about the legislation. Please feel free to contact us for answers to any questions beyond the scope of the fact sheet that come your way. We will keep you apprised of our progress and how you can join our effort when the time is appropriate.
Thank you! Margaret Ackerman DNP, CNP and Julianne Nemes Walsh, MS, PNP-BC MCNP Legislative Co-Chairs