Sen. Walker Studying Barriers to Adequate Healthcare Access

ATLANTA (November 13, 2017) | Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry) attended the third in a series of Senate Study Committee hearings on Barriers to Georgians Access to Adequate Healthcare in Atlanta on Monday, November 6, 2017. The study committee, chaired by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), is focused on finding solutions to problems facing Georgians around the state in relation to access to healthcare.

“Yesterday’s meeting was a good opportunity to hear suggestions from the higher education and nursing communities on measures the legislature can take to address the lack of healthcare providers in underserved areas of our state,” said Sen. Walker.  “Georgia has a shortage of physicians, especially in rural communities, and with an aging citizen and physician population, the problem is only going to get worse.  In parts of southwest Georgia, pregnant women are forced to travel 50 miles or more to see an OBGYN and senior citizens are driving over 80 miles to see a primary care physician.  We have got to explore near term and long term solutions that can help this at risk region.  We’ve heard first-hand from Advanced Practice Registered Nurses that our state’s current policies and regulations do not allow them to practice to the full extent of their education and training.   Allowing them more autonomy in their practice, with the ability to order diagnostic testing and granting more prescriptive authority may be part of a near term solution to the provider shortage. Like many of the issues we deal with, this is a problem that is not easily fixed.  However,  I’m hopeful that we can reach a consensus on measures that will alleviate some of the healthcare access challenges Georgians face.”

On Monday, the study committee heard presentations from several groups advocating for Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners across Georgia. Currently, there is a shortage of nurses and physicians around our state, with the rural community being the most under-served. There are approximately 50 registered nurses per 100,000 Georgians and the state ranks in the bottom quartile for overall state health.

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For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2017

Elisabeth Fletcher, Communications Specialist