LINCOLN — Persistence paid off for Nebraska’s nurse practitioners.

Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill Thursday that will give the advanced practice nurses their independence from doctors.

Legislative Bill 107, introduced by State Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue, eliminates the current requirement for nurse practitioners to have a practice agreement with a doctor. Lawmakers passed the measure 46-0 on Friday.

The Legislature passed a similar bill last year, only to have then-Gov. Dave Heineman veto the legislation. He said it moved “too far, too quickly.”

Heineman issued the veto after the Legislature had adjourned for the year, so supporters had no chance to attempt an override vote

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners hailed the bill’s signing, saying it will expand patient access to high-quality health care. Nebraska becomes the 20th state to give nurse practitioners the authority to practice independently.

Backers of the bill said the requirement to have a practice agreement has limited the number of nurse practitioners in Nebraska and exacerbated the shortage of primary and mental health care providers in rural areas.

Opposition to the bill came primarily from physicians’ groups, which said the practice agreements are needed for patient safety.

LB 107 will require newly graduated nurse practitioners to get 2,000 hours of clinical practice under the guidance of a doctor or established nurse practitioner before they can practice independently.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583, martha.stoddard@owh.com

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