(Oct. 21, 2019) – The Special Committee on Health, chaired by Representative Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita), met today for a roundtable discussion on the licensure of anesthesiologist assistants. The issue was presented to the legislature in 2019 House Bill 2295, which was heard in committee but did not make it to a vote of the full legislature. The bill was presented as a way to address a shortage of anesthetists by allowing up to four AAs to practice under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. This caused concern for registered nurse anesthetists, who currently practice without anesthesiologist supervision, as a threat to both jobs and training opportunities. The roundtable provided an opportunity for both sides to delve into the issues of concern. The main issues were as follows:
- A shortage of anesthetists, mainly in more urban areas;
- Whether or not the increase in CRNA class sizes would meet the identified need;
- Whether the addition of AA training limit the clinic training opportunities for CRNAs; thus, reducing the number of CRNAs; and
- The impact of adding AAs on rural health care.
Among those participating with the Kansas Hospital Association in the round table discussion was Robert Wright, CEO of Newman Regional Health in Emporia. Wright spoke against the addition of AAs because the model described in the bill just is not feasible for small hospitals. The committee recommended both sides come together and provide the legislature with compromise legislation.