Game Changer: HAP Announces Support for Full Practice Authority for NPs
Monday, May 2, 2016
HAP-Endorsed Compromise Would Make PA
the Strictest State in the Country to Enact Reform
Harrisburg, PA (May 2) – The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) on Monday endorsed a compromise that would grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners (NPs) in the state.
HAP President and CEO Andy Carter said the compromise reflects NPs’ education and would give Pennsylvanians the patient-centered, team-based care they deserve.
“Today’s health care professionals are being educated to function as part of a practicing health care team, which is consistent with the team-based care delivery models being used by hospitals and health systems. The full use of CNPs and other clinical professionals is needed to build strong patient relationships, help patients and families follow care plans, coordinate care across the continuum, improve patients’ health literacy, and provide health education,” Carter said.
“Allowing full practice authority for CNPs after meeting the appropriate physician collaboration requirements is a reasonable, responsible approach to helping to meet the growing health care needs for Pennsylvania.”
HAP’s full statement can be found here.
The endorsement is a game-changer in the debate over reform. HAP represents nearly 240 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. It joins AARP, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Pennsylvania Rural Health Association, and over a dozen Pa. organizations that have endorsed full practice authority for NPs.
The compromise – authored by State Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) – 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.
3 years and 3,600 hours represents the longest transition period of any state that has yet enacted full practice authority for NPs. NPs who have achieved 3 years and 3,600 of practice in other states who practice in Pennsylvania would be exempted from the requirement.
Senator Boscola is expected to introduce the compromise as an amendment to Senate Bill 717 in the Senate Professional Licensure Committee.
“The overwhelming majority of health care stakeholders has come together to call for reform that allows nurse practitioners to care for Pennsylvania. This reform is good for patients, good for taxpayers, and as today’s announcement proves, good for hospitals and health systems,” said Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners President Lorraine Bock.
“Health care policy is about getting things done for patients. We accept this compromise because too many Pennsylvanians are waiting too long and paying too much for access to high quality health care.”
Nurse practitioners (NPs), sometimes called Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs), 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.
The amended Senate Bill 717 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 the Institute of Medicine, AARP, and the National Governor’s Association.
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.