Sen Prez Gaetz comes out against nurse practitioner bill

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Florida Senate President Don Gaetz announced his opposition to a controversial House bill that could expand the power of nurse practitioners.

Gaetz’s resistance means it will probably not pass during the 2014 legislative session.

A House committee approved the bill (PCB SCHCWI 14-01) this week, which allows advanced registered nurse practitioners to provide treatment without supervision by a physician.

Although nurse practitioners support expanded power, physician groups have lobbied hard against the bill. Gaetz came out strongly against the proposal during an interview 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.”

Supporters of the bill contend that allowing nurse practitioners to work independently of doctors could be one answer to the shortage of primary-care physicians in Florida. They also say nurse practitioners already provide a majority of the care authorized by the bill.

Gaetz believes there are other ways for the state to address primary-care shortages, including expanding medical-residency programs as an incentive to train and keep doctors in state.

As Senate president he does have the power to kill the bill, but Gaetz did not say that the House bill, if presented, would die in the Senate.

“I’ll vote against it if it gets to the floor,” Gaetz told the News Service.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.