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Scope of Practice Bill Returns, Would Let Nurse Practitioners Prescribe Medication

On Monday, the bill to expand scope-of-practice for nurse practitioners returned to the Legislature with a provision to allow NPs to prescribe medication.

The text has not yet been released for SB 323 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), but Hernandez said it’s similar to SB 491, which was introduced in the 2013 legislative session by Hernandez. That bill passed the Senate and stalled in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

“Nothing has changed, but hopefully the makeup of the Assembly is a little different and we’ll have a different outcome,” Hernandez said. “Certainly the need hasn’t changed. We have … fewer primary care providers, we have narrower networks, we have more people with insurance or Medi-Cal who will need primary care providers.”

According to Hernandez, 20 other states have expanded the scope of NPs’ practices, and at least 17 other states allow independent prescribing of medication.

“Nurse practitioners can prescribe medication right now. They’re doing that right now, in 17 other states,” Hernandez said. “There has been no increase in medical malpractice, they see Medicaid patients at higher rates. This is what nurse practitioners are already doing.”

The proposed law would affect about 18,000 NPs in California, Hernandez said.

Primary resistance last session came from the California Medical Association, which objected to removing physician supervision from nurse practitioners’ practices. 

SB 323 is co-authored by Assembly member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton). Its first stop will be the Senate Committee on Business and Professions in March.

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