A bill supported by a large, bipartisan group of lawmakers has been put forward once again at the North Carolina General Assembly.

The bill, known as the SAVE Act, removes the requirement that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) get a signed permission slip and pay a fee to a doctor to serve patients.

Removing this burden would allow high-skilled nurses to practice at the full level of their education and training, thereby lowering costs and increasing access to care.

At a news conference introducing the bill, legislators noted that “some doctors supervise nurses from out of state, or by phone.

Senator Gale Adcock said the mandate “amounts to a permission slip to go to work.

And according to WRAL, doctors can charge tens of thousands of dollars for these “permission slip” services.

Speaking in support of the bill, NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie pleaded that "each of the 78 we serve are considered and designated as health professional shortage areas. This cannot continue to be acceptable.”

In 2002, Arizona removed a similar regulatory burden and just five years later saw a 73 percent jump of APRNs working in rural areas.

The bill would also significantly lower healthcare costs.

A Duke University study found by removing the regulation North Carolina could save up to $4.3 billion in healthcare costs annually and create 3,800 new jobs.

Despite overwhelming support among lawmakers, the SAVE Act failed to pass last legislative session when powerful interest groups flexed their lobbying and financial might.

And because of that, patients in North Carolina lost out.

Lawmakers should not let that happen again this year.

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