DENVER -- The Colorado state legislature’s House Finance Committee met early Tuesday morning to vote on a bill that will affect the nursing community. It’s called the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact and it’s meant to modify the original agreement.
The new agreement requires fingerprint-based background checks for nurses joining the program. Some 26 states have already signed on to the compact and two others are pending.
The bill failed during the last session. It was part of a larger piece of legislation that some Republicans opposed for being too overreaching. This time around, the compact is a standalone bill.
“The big opportunity is to ensure a workforce here in Colorado so that nurses that want to relocate to Colorado and provide nursing care here have a license that allows them to transfer here without additional burden of regulatory paperwork as well as costs,” said Colleen Casper, the executive director of the Colorado Nurse’s Association.
Along with allowing nurses to cross state lines to work, the compact opens the door to telehealth treatments and providing aid in natural disasters.
“Recently we had many Colorado nurses go into the state of Texas to help during the hurricane and the massive care needs that we need in hospitals there. The compact license allows it to happen very efficiently,” Casper said.
The 86,000 Colorado nurses who are already a part of the original NLC will be grandfathered in to the new compact and will not need to go through the background check. Casper said many of them already have gone through some sort of a background check as part of their employment.
For other nurses looking to join the compact, Casper said the Department of Regulatory Affairs has already been preparing an expedited implementation process in anticipation of the bill passing.
The goal of the new compact is to encourage more states to sign on so that there is one, standardized license for nurses in the U.S.
“It’s not going to stop. It will take work and it will take time but this is growing much more rapidly than they anticipated,” Casper said.
The bill already passed the Colorado Senate. It passed the House Finance Committee early Tuesday morning and immediately headed to the appropriations committee. The goal is to have it on Governor Hickenlooper’s desk by Wednesday.