The House Health Policy Committee Sept. 20 reported a bill to license and regulate nurses with a masters, post-masters or doctoral degree in a nursing specialty, called advance practice registered nurses (APRNs).

APRNs may be nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists. Currently, the Michigan Board of Nursing may grant specialty certification to a registered professional nurse who has training beyond the requirements of initial licensure.

The bill, HB 5400, would add a list of protected terms, restricted to be used only by individuals authorized to use them: “certified nurse midwife,” “CNM,” “advanced practice registered nurse,” “APRN,” “NP” “certified nurse practitioner,” “CNP,” “clinical nurse specialist,” “CNS,” “clinical nurse specialist-certified,” and “CNS-C.”

These nurses would have the ability to prescribe drugs and controlled substances, dispense complimentary starter doses of controlled substances and would allow APRNs to make house calls or go on rounds whose timing and frequency is unrestricted by a physician.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ken YONKER (R-Caledonia) has been working on this bill since his first term and this year worked with a variety of health care stakeholders to forge the draft reported last week. “It’s a very simple bill, but it’s been a very complex bill,” Yonker said.

The intent of the bill, Yonker said is to improve patient access to health care providers, in time when there is a shortage of providers in some parts of the state.

According to the House Fiscal Agency, the bill would create a new fee for APRNs ($75 for application processing and a $60 annual license fee) and increase licensing fees for all

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registered nurses. The application processing fee for prospective registered professional nurses, licensed practical nurses, and trained attendants would be increased from $24 to $75 and the annual license fee would be increased from $30 to $60.

Registered nurse and former 80th District candidate Abigail NOBEL opposed the bill on the basis that she believe it does nothing but doubles a tax while adding little value in the way of Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) oversight.

“If anything, license fees should be reduced to encourage more nurses to practice in Michigan,” said Nobel in a press release. “Everyone’s budget is tight. Government agencies like LARA should be looking for ways to cut spending, as Michigan taxpayers have been forced to do.”

This story presented as part of a partnership between Healthcare Michigan and MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.