Bill to Broaden Prescription Law Renewed

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County assemblyman and the California Medical Assn. squared off Tuesday in a renewal of a running battle over a bill to let nurse practitioners prescribe non-narcotic drugs in licensed clinics and hospitals with the approval of a supervising physician.

Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove) reintroduced his legislation, killed on the Senate floor with medical association help last year, claiming that it would result in patients receiving improved health care at a lower cost.

David Horner, medical association president, said the measure overlooks a basic principle of medicine: The ability to diagnose must be present before a person can be considered qualified to prescribe treatment, he said.

Robinson and the doctors, who have one of the most powerful lobbies in the Capitol and make large campaign contributions, are long-time enemies in the turf war over who should and should not prescribe drugs.

Nurses Back Bill

The bill is sponsored by the California Nurses Assn., which gave Robinson $15,000 last year, when he was running for reelection in a tough race. The medical association gave $20,000 to Richard E. Longshore, his Republican opponent, and local doctors pitched in with $15,000 more for Longshore.

Robinson won reelection by a razor-thin 256-vote margin after a recount.

Fifteen states allow nurse practitioners, who receive more training than registered nurses, to prescribe drugs on a limited basis, and Robinson said there have been pilot programs in California that have produced no problems.

"The reason for pilot projects is to see if a concept works before making it law," he said.

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