During a meeting of the Assembly Health Committee September 28, WHA Vice President, Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk and Board of Nursing (BON) Chair Sheryl Krause—along with two members of the Southwest Health, Platteville leadership team, testified in support of Assembly Bill 500 to maintain Wisconsin’s status as a nurse licensure compact state.
Since 2000, Wisconsin has been a part of an interstate nurse licensure agreement, which reduces regulatory burden on nurses looking to practice in Wisconsin and provides nurses with license portability to treat patients in other states. In 2015, the compact was updated and quickly adopted by 26 states—initiating the process for states in the current nurse licensure compact to transfer to the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (known as the eNLC).
“High-quality health care attracts high-quality professionals, and Wisconsin health care is ranked at or near the top by many national measures,” said Zenk to members of the Committee. “Sustaining membership in a nurse licensure compact by joining the enhanced compact will benefit high-quality health care by making it easier for patients to access care by Wisconsin nurses and removing regulatory barriers for nurses successfully recruited to work in Wisconsin’s high-quality health care facilities.”
“Enactment of this bill must be expedited to ensure a smooth transition into the new compact,” according to Sheryl Krause, who also serves as the emergency department director at Fort HealthCare.
WHA has been working closely with the Board of Nursing, the Department of Safety and Professional Services and several health care and nursing organizations to enact this legislation before the end of 2017. The eNLC will be effective January 19, 2018, requiring the Legislature to enact a bill before that time to ensure nurses in Wisconsin can continue to take advantage of this important interstate licensing agreement.
Steve McCarthy, chief operating officer and Erica Brunkow, human resources director at Southwest Health in Platteville, also testified in support of the legislation. McCarthy said 17 percent of their nursing workforce live in Iowa and practice in Wisconsin, making the Compact even more important for organizations like Southwest Health. Brunkow also discussed the education, training and recruitment efforts for nursing and other health care providers who are dependent on students who are educated in Iowa but trained and successfully recruited to work at Southwest Health in Wisconsin.
Assembly Bill 500 is authored by Rep. Nancy VanderMeer and Sen. Howard Marklein. The bill has a total of 96 lawmakers either co-authoring or sponsoring the legislation, thanks to the efforts of WHA’s legislative partners and our HEAT grassroots network. The Assembly Health Committee is expected to meet again October 18 to vote on the legislation with Assembly floor action to take place as soon as October 31.
To see a copy of the testimony from WHA and the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, see: