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Politics / Issues

Senate Leader Opposes Nursing Bill

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The Florida Senate

A controversial House bill that would expand the power of nurse practitioners faces opposition from Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, potentially meaning it will not pass during the upcoming legislative session. 

A House select committee last week approved the bill (PCB SCHCWI 14-01), which would allow advanced registered nurse practitioners to provide care without physician supervision.

Nurse practitioners have long sought the expanded power, though physician groups are lobbying against the bill.

Gaetz came out strongly against the proposal during an interview Friday with The News Service of Florida.

"I'm against it,'' Gaetz said. "I think if you want to be a doctor, go to medical school."

House supporters argue, in part, that allowing nurse practitioners to work independently could help address a shortage of primary-care physicians in the state.

Also, they say nurse practitioners already provide much of the care that the bill would allow.

But Gaetz said the state should address primary-care shortages in other ways, such as expanding medical-residency programs to train and keep doctors in Florida.

As Senate president, Gaetz has the power to kill legislation. When asked if the House proposal is dead in the Senate, he did not give a direct answer. "I'll vote against it if it gets to the floor,'' he said.

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