Rural healthcare was in the spotlight last week.

After years of stalling in the Capitol, we finally passed a compromise bill between Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) and physicians that brings Oklahoma in line with much of the country in how CRNAs are regulated. Under current law, CRNAs are required to be “supervised” by a physician while performing their anesthetist duties. Senate Bill 801 would change this relationship from supervisory to collaborative. The measure was supported by all major stakeholders including the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists, the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association.

This is “win” for rural health care in our state because CRNAs are sometimes the only provider for critical access hospitals and health care centers in our small towns. The measure passed unanimously off the Senate floor and now heads to the House for a vote.

We also approved an important electronic prescription exemption. Oklahoma’s e-prescription law, which requires an electronic prescription for all controlled substances, went into effect on January 1 of this year. It’s aimed at fighting prescription fraud and the opioid addiction epidemic. This law has been successful thus far, but an exemption for outpatient hospice care was needed. While visiting hospice patients, especially in rural areas, doctors may not have access to broadband or high-speed internet to efficiently send a prescription electronically. This exemption allows health care providers the flexibility to use traditional prescription methods to quickly treat their patients with compassionate care during the last days of life.

I enjoyed visiting with FFA members from the Welch, Bluejacket, Afton and Vinita FFA Chapters this week during FFA Day at the Capitol. The FFA organization houses some of our best and brightest student leaders. It is always a pleasure to welcome them to the Senate.

Committee work will continue until Feb. 27, which is the committee deadline to hear Senate Bills. We then must hear these bills on the floor by March 12. Things move quickly at the Capitol, so please reach out if you have questions or concerns about any legislation. You can reach my office at 405-521-5561 or email me at Micheal.Bergstrom@oksenate.gov. Thank you for allowing me to be your voice in the State Senate.

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) was elected in 2016 as the state senator from District 1 which encompasses the northeast corner of Oklahoma including Ottawa, Craig, Delaware and Mayes counties.