Legislative Testimony LB687, Advanced Practice Registered Nursing Compact
Good afternoon, Chairman Riepe and members of the Health and Human Services Committee. My name is Nicole Fox, and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Platte Institute. Thank you, Senator Blood, for introducing LB687. I am here today to testify in support of this bill.
As a registered dietitian in the state of Nebraska, I know how important a compact is for licensed professionals. Currently, there is no inter-state compact for dietitians. This means I cannot cross the state line and provide my services without obtaining another state’s license.
An Advanced Practice Nurse Compact would be of great benefit to the state of Nebraska. This compact will allows Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to have one multistate license, allowing them to practice in their home state as well as other states belonging to the compact. APRNs moving across state lines from one Compact state to another are spared having to fill out additional license applications, pay additional licensing fees and therefore lessens the time delay in terms of the ability to enter Nebraska’s workforce.
Since 2006, Nebraska’s APRN workforce has tripled. In many communities, the demand for primary care services exceeds supply, and policies that help contribute to the growth of the APRN workforce helps meet this demand.
I’d like to illustrate how the state of Nebraska would benefit with the following examples: first, some of our hospital systems, including Methodist and CHI in Omaha, have facilities in both Nebraska and a neighboring state. It is not economical for APRNs or their employers to require a license for both states.
Second, Nebraska is home to Offutt Air Force Base. Those moving to Nebraska from other states due to military assignments would find it easier and quicker to enter our workforce.
Third, in the rural parts of Western Nebraska access to healthcare can be limited due to a shortage of providers. Per a brief compiled by Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Center for Nursing, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) reports that 66 of Nebraska’s counties have been deemed medically underserved and a majority of them are rural. APRN’s currently work in 44 of these counties, and this represents 86% of the APRN workforce. Our neighbor Wyoming is currently a Compact state. Enabling this compact will allow us to address these underserved areas and provide telehealth health services to patients in the rural parts of our state.
Lastly, given the financial environment our state is currently in, the increased use of APRNs has the potential to save Medicaid dollars.
Last year Nebraska approved the updated Nurse Practice Act which allows nurses to practice across state lines, we need to do the same for APRNs. We need to continue to be competitive in the health care workforce arena. I previously mentioned that our neighbor Wyoming is currently a APRN Compact state, and I would like to add that Iowa is looking to implement this legislation.
The Platte Institute strongly supports occupational licensing reform as a means of lessening burdens to those trying to enter the state’s workforce, and adopting the APRN Compact would be a good reform for Nebraska to embrace. I ask that you advance LB 687 out of committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions the committee may have.