Florida lawmakers are considering two bills this spring to loosen restrictions on practice for nurse practitioners and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Both are opposed by physicians groups. The proposed laws would allow CRNAs to practice without physician supervision (HB 7071) and nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances with a license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (SB 1352).
Nursing groups argue an increasing demand for care is expected as more people become insured under the Affordable Care Act and a shortage of providers make it imperative to allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their training and education.
Florida has the highest population of geriatric patients and its getting harder and harder for them to get care, especially in rural areas, Susan Lynch, RN, NP, MSN, CEO of the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners, told the Naples Daily News. The fewer restrictions on nurse practitioners, the more costs go down.
There are 19,000 advanced registered nurse practitioners in Florida with masters and doctoral degrees. Of those, 12,000 are nurse practitioners who provide primary and acute care services and 6,300 are nurse anesthetists. The remaining 700 are nurse midwives.
The Florida Medical Association, which opposes the laws, advocates increasing the number of primary care physicians by increasing residency slots, providing medical school loan forgiveness to new physicians who go into family practice, and increasing collaboration with nurse practitioners, with the physician in charge.