News: Quick Takes

SAVE Act would give advanced practice nurses more authority, autonomy

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Madison. (CJ photo)
Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Madison. (CJ photo)

Lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills that would give broader scope-of-practice opportunities for advanced practice registered nurses in North Carolina.

Senate Bill 249 and House Bill 277, both known as the 2021 SAVE Act, would reform nursing regulations to allow medical professionals — such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists — to take on the full scope of practice.

“There are far too many cases in health care where government intervention results in restricted access to care and higher health care costs,” said Jordan Roberts, Government Affairs Associate with the John Locke Foundation. “Outdated supervisory requirements for North Carolina’s advanced practice registered nurses check both of those boxes. The John Locke Foundation supports the ability of highly qualified nurses to practice at the top of their license and have full practice authority.”

A bipartisan coalition of nurses, lawmakers, and advocates for better healthcare in rural areas came introduced the two measures during a press conference Thursday, March 11.

Both bills would remove the requirement that nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives have a collaborative practice agreement to treat patients. North Carolina is one of 12 states that restrict the practice authority of these two professions unless they obtain an agreement with a supervising physician.

The bills would also reform oversight authority for nursing. Currently, both the N.C. Medical Board and the N.C. Board of Nursing regulate nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives. Under the measures, the Board of Nursing would have sole authority over these two professions.

At the press conference, lawmakers and advocates pointed to rising health care costs and lack of medical professionals available in rural areas as two key reasons S.B. 249 or H.B. 277 must become law.

“The only solution that fills that role is to expand the use of nurses,” said Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Madison, who is the primary sponsor of the Senate version.