FL Panhandle Nurse Practitioner Coalition Push for Expanded Prescription Authority
— Floridan file photo
Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, speaks at last month’s meeting regarding the prescription drug laws issue. Coley and other area lawmakers are being asked to allow nurse practitioners to prescribe certain types of medication.
By ASHLEY McKEEN
Floridan Staff Writer
Published: March 4, 2010
A coalition of local advanced registered nurse practitioners, or ARNPs, are gearing up for a “Rally in Tally” set for March 24, with plans to lobby for Florida’s ARNPs’ right to prescribe controlled substances.
Any prescription drug as defined in the five categories of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 are considered controlled substances.
Florida’s ARNPs have been seeking authority to prescribe controlled substances for more than 15 years.
Florida and Alabama are the only two states in the country which have not granted this authority to their state’s nurse practitioners.
Arlenea Falcon, an ARNP in Blountstown, spoke on this issue last week at a meeting with district legislators.
Rep. Marti Coley,R-Marianna, Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, as well as Sen. Al Lawson,D-Tallahassee, were present at the Feb. 22 meeting.
“It is estimated that every day hundreds of uninsured and Medicaid or Medicare patients must go to emergency rooms to get medications for cancer pain, anxiety, cough or diarrhea medication or even pain medication,” Falcon said.
“And why is this? Because these patients are cared for by ARNPs who are prohibited by an outdated law to prescribe these medications.
“There are 48 other states that have granted permission to their ARNPs to prescribe these more effective medications, and have seen successes within their health care systems. But Florida has been avoiding the issue for 15 years,” Falcon said.
Currently, Senate Bill 188 and House Bill 677, which would allow ARNPs to prescribe, are not as of yet scheduled for a hearing before the health care committees in this legislative session. Falcon said along with her local efforts, a coalition of ARNPs are now working to educate the public and local legislators on the issue.
Falcon has made public appearances and spoken with colleagues on the urgency of this issue being discussed in this year’s legislative session.
“I don’t want to see this bill be tabled again this year, which is why I will be in Tallahassee this month,” Falcon said.
Falcon also participated in the Feb. 17 rally in Tallahassee for the Hospital Patient Protection Act.
That bill would set minimum hospital staffing ratios and give nurses whistleblower protection. It would set nurse-to-patient ratios for various types of hospital care, which nurses are saying is needed.
“Both pieces of legislation are important to not just nurse practitioners, but to state residents as well,” Falcon said. “Especially to those in our area, with us being rural and having less access to care.”
Falcon says she hopes to see more supporters at the March rally, than were at last month’s.
“Me and one other nurse from the Panhandle were present last month, with other nurses being bussed from all over the state,” Falcon said. “And that’s sad.”