Health Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear has signed a bill designed to address a long-standing health issue in Kentucky – a lack of trained nurses. 

During a news conference Thursday, Beshear approved Senate Bill 10, which removes barriers for nurses licensed in other states and countries to get to work more quickly in Kentucky – not just those from states in the Nurse Licensure Compact

It also removes caps on the number of students nursing schools with 80% or greater completion rates can accept per year and reorganizes the Kentucky Board of Nursing to be more representative of communities statewide. 

“This bill addresses key issues in our nursing pipeline and aims to eliminate some of the barriers that nurses face when practicing or attempting to practice in Kentucky,” Beshear said just before signing the bill. 

It’s a need that’s been recognized for years and is expected to get worse. The Kentucky Nurses Association reports around 89,000 nurses licensed in the state, which is still 12% to 20% lower than what it should be. That organization has predicted an additional 16,000 nurses will be needed statewide over the next two years, on top of that shortfall. 

Republican Sen. Robby Mills, of Henderson and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester sponsored the bill, which gained unanimous bipartisan support in nearly every step of the legislative process. 

“It is important that Kentucky has quality nursing care that will meet our future needs,” Mills said in a statement. “SB10 is a big step forward in ensuring that our commonwealth’s health care systems have the nurses to meet our citizens’ health needs now and in the future.”

The bill has an emergency clause, which means it goes into effect right away.

 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.