Nurse Practitioners Statement: Senate Passes Legislation to Expand Health Care Access
SB717 Will Continue to the House for a Vote
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael T. Rodriguez
(717) 303-5556 (cell)
Harrisburg, PA (July 12) – In a 41-9 vote, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 717 (SB 717), which will modernize state law for nurse practitioners (NPs) as a way to boost quality, lower costs and expand access to health care in the state. SB 717 will now head to the House of Representatives for a vote that could come this fall.
Passage of the bill, which will significantly help the state’s vulnerable populations by removing unnecessary barriers to health care, was praised by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (PCNP) and patients throughout the commonwealth.
“By passing Senate Bill 717 our senators have helped bring Pennsylvania significantly closer to accessing the full extent of the education and training that NPs receive,” said PCNP President Lorraine Bock. “Adopting this vital piece of legislation will benefit residents of our state for generations to come.
“Patients have been loud and clear about their desire to see this legislation become law. We commend the Senate for their leadership and for serving as advocates on behalf of accessible and affordable quality health care for all residents.”
The bill, as passed by the Senate, includes a compromise – authored by State Senator Lisa Boscola – that would require nurse practitioners to practice for 3 years and 3,600 hours under a collaborative agreement with two physicians, as they do today. After completing this transition-to-practice period, NPs would have full practice authority and no longer be mandated to obtain these contracts.
Three years and 3,600 hours represents the longest transition period of any state in the country.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) 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.
Senate Bill 717 and House Bill 765 would end this costly, arbitrary and outdated mandate and make Pennsylvania a full practice authority state. Currently, 21 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.
Legislation like Senate Bill 717 and House Bill 765 is endorsed by experts such as AARP, the National Governor’s Association, the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), the National Academy of Medicine, the Federal Trade Commission and dozens of other nonpartisan organizations.
Current law disproportionately limits access to care among underserved communities, including rural areas, urban communities and patients with Medicaid insurance.
Nurse practitioners are more likely to practice in rural areas compared to physicians. And nurse practitioners in states with full practice authority are more likely to practice in rural areas compared to nurse practitioners in states like Pennsylvania without it.
About the Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners
PCNP is the state organization that promotes and protects the practice of over 10,000 Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs) in Pennsylvania and whose mission is to improve access to care. Formed in the 1980s by three forward-thinking NPs, PCNP now has 18 regional groups across the Commonwealth.