Bills of Note: Clinician Training Grants

Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) and Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) recently introduced AB 227/SB 161, relating to clinician training grants. The bill would provide training grants to advanced practice clinicians (APCs) such as physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, especially in rural areas.

The bill provides $750,000 per year for the next two years for APC training programs. A hospital or clinic may receive up to $50,000 per year under this program, with a preference for rural hospitals or clinics located in a municipality with a population of less than 20,000. Recipients will be required to match the grant dollar-for-dollar.

APCs play a crucial role in rural hospitals because patients in rural areas rely on APCs as a primary care access point. However, there is an increasing shortage in APCs in rural areas. Over 80 percent of Wisconsin counties have hospital vacancies for APCs that exceed 10 percent. This bill aims to incentivize new clinical rotation programs to be established in rural communities that primarily rely on APCs for health care.

The Assembly Committee on Rural Development and Mining held a public hearing on AB 227 on Wednesday, May 3. Those supporting the bill, including the Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, asked legislators’ support for the measure that they said would ensure that APCs can provide the best health care possible to Wisconsin residents in all parts of the state.