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Letter to the Editor: AA legislation addresses need across Missouri

Saturday, June 21, 2003

To the editor:

Gov. Bob Holden has signed House Bill 390, an act allowing the licensing of anesthesiologist assistants.

State Rep. Jason Crowell and state Rep. Rod Jetton were among the sponsors of this bill.

Our state legislature as well as Holden should be commended for proactively addressing our state's anesthesia personnel shortage.

Forty-seven percent of those polled in a 2002 national survey by the American Hospital Association said that they had closed or altered the working schedules of their operating rooms due to a shortage of anesthesia personnel. The Missouri Hospital Association also has reported an average vacancy rate of 12 percent for jobs that could be filled by AAs.

HB 390 provides anesthesiologists with another qualified pool of assistants to expand anesthesia care teams. It also makes another high-wage health-care career available to Missouri's citizens.

The Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists initially opposed this legislation but withdrew its opposition after agreeing on compromise language during a meeting with the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists.

The final bill enjoyed bipartisan support. We should be gratified that our often divided political parties were able to come together on this budget-neutral bill for the good of Missouri's citizens.

DR. TERRY L. CLEAVER

Cape Girardeau