AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Medicaid patients previously turned away from their physicians will soon be able to access local health care easier.
Currently, if a physician does not accept an insurance plan, a nurse practitioner who works under that physician also has to turn that patient away.
With the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Insurance Bill, or HB 1225/SB654, nurse practitioners will be able to serve patients in all of the 16 medicaid plans.
"If a nurse practitioner was seeing medicaid kids but the physician didn't want to see medicaid in his or her practice, then neither would the nurse practitioner," said Holly Jeffreys, Family Nurse Practitioner. "So, what these bills did, was allow us to see those kids regardless if that physician was in that work or not."
In the Texas Panhandle, a majority of those affected live in rural communities or are foster children like Sondra Eagle's grandson. He was turned away from his primary care physician because of his coverage.
"He has had to change doctors even though there is a clinic right here in Panhandle," said Eagle. "We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful clinic and healthcare here, but he has to go someplace else to get his healthcare. That means travel and having to make arrangements in another town, and it's just very inconvenient for his family and him."
The Texas Panhandle is short about 170 Health Professionals, so most times the only care rural patients can get is from nurse practitioners.
"In rural communities, we really do know our patients well," said Jeffreys. "They are not a number, and we know their history. Every time they come in, we take good care of them. So, we don't like to give our patients away and if they go to another clinic they may not feel as welcomed. We are exited about this. It was tough to get this through the legislature. Representative John Smithee did a wonderful job advocating for this. He knew it was important to the Texas Panhandle and throughout the state. As well as Senator Kel Seliger, he also did an excellent job getting this through."