Nurse Practitioners Celebrate Important Vote to Expand Access to Health Care
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Harrisburg, PA (April 26) – On Wednesday afternoon the Pennsylvania State Senate passed Senate Bill 25 on a bipartisan vote of 39-to-10. Pa. Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (PCNP) President Lorraine Bock celebrated the milestone.
“This is an important day for patients across Pennsylvania. We thank senators for taking a stand for reform that will improve health care quality, expand access and lower costs,” Bock said. “Senate Bill 25 will enable nurse practitioners to provide primary and specialized care to patients across Pennsylvania, especially those living in rural and underserved communities.”
The legislation is especially timely. Last week, Pew Charitable Trusts reported that outdated nurse practitioner licensing rules like Pennsylvania’s are hindering efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
The report found, in part:
“Twenty-eight states [including Pennsylvania] prohibit nurse practitioners from prescribing buprenorphine unless they are working in collaboration with a doctor who also has a federal license to prescribe it. The problem is, half of all counties in the U.S. do not have a single physician with a license to prescribe buprenorphine.”
SB25 and its companion legislation House Bill 100 would fix this problem. The legislation has bipartisan support from legislators and numerous statewide and national organizations, including AARP Pennsylvania, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pa., and more. A full list of supporting organizations is here.
Senate Bill 25 will now move to the House for consideration.
Under the legislation, every nurse practitioner would be required to:
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- Have a master’s degree or doctorate
- Earn national certification
- Comply with the ongoing guidance and oversight of the State Board of Nursing
- Complete 3,600 hours and three years* under the existing collaborative agreement mandate before being eligible for full practice authority
*Note: the 3,600 hour/three year requirement would make Pennsylvania the strictest state in the country to enact this reform.
About Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners (NPs), also called Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs) or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), have graduate, advanced education, with master’s degrees or doctorates and are nationally certified in their specialty areas. Among their many services NPs order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests; diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and injuries; prescribe medications and other treatments; and manage a patient’s care. Over 100 studies have proven that NPs provide safe, high-quality health care.
Currently, in order to practice, a nurse practitioner must secure business contracts called collaborative agreements with two physicians. Researchers – including physicians and nurse practitioners alike – have proven that this mandate offers no patient health benefits. To the contrary, research shows that the mandate restricts access to care and correlates with worse patient health outcomes.
Full practice authority legislation would end this costly, arbitrary and outdated mandate and make Pennsylvania a full practice authority state. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia are already using full practice authority to expand access to care, especially for underserved rural areas and patients with Medicaid insurance.