AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - In January, state officials introduced the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Insurance Bill and if passed, it will increase health care access in rural and under served communities in Texas.
Currently, if a physician does not accept an insurance plan, a nurse practitioner who works under that physician has to turn that patient away as well.
The APRN bill formerly known as HB 1225/ SB654, will allow nurse practitioners to freely choose to serve any patient.
"Right now, we always see people trying to make an appointment and if our physician does not accept their insurance, we (nurse practitioners) have to turn them away too," said family nurse practitioner, Holly Jeffreys. "Out in rural communities, many times if we turn people away, they will have to travel 40 or 45 miles away from home to the next nearest available provider. If the bill is passed, we would gladly accept and keep care all of the vulnerable people that need the health care in our rural counties."
Currently, Texas physicians only accept about 34 percent of new medicaid patients.
In Potter County alone, there are more than 36,000 people who are under a medicaid plan and often get rejected.
This bill will allow nurse practitioners to freely choose to serve patients in all of the 16 medicaid plans.
"There are a number of different plans and many of those plans do keep care of foster kids," said Jeffreys "So, that's something that we hold near and dear to our hearts and right now, we often times have to turn away every foster kid."
In Texas, a nurse practitioner is required to do collaborative work with a physician, problems often rise when a nurse practitioner is the only provider in a rural community.
When patients are turned away they will have to travel out of town or to the nearest emergency room which can be pricey.
"For instance, at the Boy's Ranch Clinic, we have kids that have nowhere else to go, we are the only providers," said Jefferys. "If they need something that we can't provide they end up going to the ER for their primary care. This happens to a lot of rural clinics, it's the same thing really, if you don't have a provider that is available for people they have to travel somewhere else."
If you want to follow the bills progress through legislature you can visit a Texas Legislative bill tracking website.