Nurses want to extend pandemic rule despite Evers veto

MADISON, Wis. — Advanced practice nurses are pushing to extend a pandemic-era rule that allows them to work without an agreement with a physician, slamming Gov. Tony Evers during a Capitol news conference Thursday for his veto of a bill that would have done just that.

“Why am I now needing a collaborating physician again when I was good enough during the pandemic?” asked Lori Kisting, an advanced practice nurse practitioner in Stevens Point.

The bill would have created licensing framework to allow those nurses to be licensed as “advanced practice registered nurses” and to work independently of physicians. The bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support but Evers vetoed it in April.

In his veto message, the governor said the bill did not address concerns raised by the medical community. Groups like the Wisconsin Medical Society opposed the bill, in part because they believed it would cut doctors out of the patient care equation.

Among the reason to keep physicians in the picture, the group cited education, indicating that physicians usually clock more than 12,000 clinical hours. Under the bill, advanced practice nurses would need more than 3,000 hours working under a collaboration agreement with a doctor to be licensed as APRNs.

Advocates say keeping the pandemic-era rule could be a boon to rural Wisconsinites, who might be underserved by the healthcare system.

“Rural Wisconsinites… will lose the access if I cannot find a willing and financially affordable collaborative physician,” Kisting said.

Clinics can also be put under strain based on their access to collaborating physicians.

“I can be a day away from closing my practice if I were to lose my collaborating physician,” said Rebecca Gilbertson, a doctor of nursing practice in Medford. “Not only would this affect my patients but my livelihood and all that livelihood of my employees.”

“Rest assured even though this is a minor setback that the bill was vetoed, this bill is not going away,” said Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, one of the bill’s authors. “It will come back in some form or fashion next session, and I am hopeful that there will be an administration that will sign this bill into law.”

News 3 Now reached out to Evers’ office for comment for this story but did not receive a response as of Thursday evening.