It's encouraging to see that some state lawmakers are thinking about how to handle the practical aspects of health care reform. State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, said this week he will propose a series of bills early next year to address physician shortages in the state. Among other things, Hernandez wants nurse practitioners and physician assistants to have more leeway to treat patients.

When it comes to treating sore throats, coughs and flus, common reasons people seek medical treatment, nurse practitioners provide care at a level equal to physicians. This will be a good step toward equipping the state, and regions like Kern County that have severe doctor shortages, to handle the demands of health care reform and expanding populations.