RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The GOP-led North Carolina Senate is moving forward with proposed legislation that would expand Medicaid. The bill also includes a number of other healthcare-related issues including the SAVE Act.

A little more than a year ago, CBS 17 spoke to Raleigh therapist and nurse practitioner Jessica Sparrow. What she said then still remains true today.  

“The biggest problem that I’ve had is finding a supervising physician for another nurse practitioner to hire. So hiring a new provider would help alleviate that barrier for people to be seen sooner.”

Sparrow also said that barrier means she doesn’t have room for any new clients.

In North Carolina, nurse practitioners, certified midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified registered nurse anesthetists who have their own practice are required to have a supervising physician. They only meet with them twice a year and it’s expensive. The SAVE Act would remove that requirement.

State representative Gale Adcock is also a nurse practitioner and a sponsor of the bill.

“So that they can do everything they are already doing but without this kind of check the box paper physician supervision that’s actually meaningless, doesn’t add any value to the care they give,” she said.

While the SAVE Act has been stuck in committee on the house side, it now has momentum in the senate.

“This is one step in many steps that need to happen for this to come into a realistic fruition,” said Sparrow.

Adcock said the access to healthcare crisis is the top reason the bill should pass because the gap could be filled by qualified providers other than physicians.

“We have counties that have no primary provider. We have 30 counties that have no obstetrical provider. I mean we’re in a terrible place,” said Rep. Adcock.

Sparrow said the same problem exists for nurse practitioners who want to provide mental healthcare in less populated counties.

“Some of those counties don’t have psychiatrists at all. That would really be a big barrier removed for those nurse practitioners, that own businesses or working clinics, where they’d like to hire somebody else but don’t have the supervising physician piece in place,” she said.

“This is not a novel idea, it’s not something new and we know that it works. Because over the last thirteen years, 26 states have done it. Not a single state has ever repealed this legislation. No one has ever walked it back and said that didn’t help, that it made things worse.”