A roadblock for Missouri nurse practitioners could come down soon. The state legislature passed a bill this year that would allow nurse practitioners to cover an even wider area than previously allowed.

Sen. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, tells Missourinet that his bill started out as a fix for nurse practitioners to practice in the women’s correctional center in Chillicothe. While working there, the nurse practitioners are sometimes 75 miles away from where the collaborating doctor was practicing.

“When this agreement first began, we were still under some COVID relief in the fact that the governor had, of course, waived several rules and that was one of them,” according to Black. “Whenever this rule went back into effect, that caused nurse practitioners, I hate to use the word illegal, (were) practicing outside of the boundaries of what our state statutes had said.”

Another provision in the bill relates to what’s called the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. Through the Department of Health and Senior Services, the program provides forgivable loans to repay existing student loans for students in the health profession. They would be required to serve at least 2 years in an area of defined need.

Black said rural Missouri lacks medical providers.

“For the 19 counties that I represent, there’s certainly a shortage and we need to work as a state to still provide good, adequate care, but to be able to allow a few more people to do that and not be quite so restrictive in some of our rules in the state of Missouri,” Black said.

Through the government process at the Missouri Capitol, several other provisions related to professional licensure were added to his bill. One includes modifying laws relating to regulating tattooing in Missouri and clarifying its language.

Black expects Gov. Mike Parson to sign his bill into law, expressing confidence that the details were hammered out ahead of time.

“I hope that that is true and nothing’s changed, but there was some provisions on the bill that caused heartache, not only at the governor’s offices but other places that probably weren’t bad, but they hadn’t been vetted long enough,” Black explained. “There was some concerns about language, I think we got all of those things taken off the bill in the conference report.”

The governor has until July 14 to take action on the bill, or it becomes law all on its own.

Click here for more information on Senate Bill 157.