New Virginia law aims to increase access to healthcare

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Cheryl Lunger sniffles as she sits on the exam table. She definitely woke up feeling a bit under the weather.

“Just some allergy symptoms that were irritating me,” Lunger describes.

She came to the walk-in clinic at Commonwealth Primary Care where Nurse Practitioner (NP) Margee Krebs checked her out right away.

“You’re sneezing a lot?” Krebs asks during the exam. “Breathe in and out.”

The new law will allow NPs like Krebs to practice independently in Virginia without direct supervision of a physician after five years of full-time work.

Krebs says it will expand and provide more access to care especially in underserved areas.

“I’ve had several colleagues who have worked with physicians who have either retired or left practice and that has made the patients unable to see their provider,” explains Krebs. “A lot of times physicians in rural areas are far and few between, and nurse practitioners are able to fill that void.” 

However, as the bill made its way through the General Assembly, some doctors fought it. They questioned patient safety and the competition it could encourage.

“The fact that there was a turf war made me a little bit sad because we are all here to meet the same goal, and that is to provide good care to patients,” says Krebs.

This law, going into effect on July 1, brings Virginia in line with policies for NP’s in around two dozen other states.

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