Pennsylvania nurses are pushing for full practice authority licensure for certified nurse practitioners in one of the more restrictive states in the nation, according to a Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research brief published in September by the University of Pennsylvania SON.
According to the brief, the state currently requires nationally certified and fully licensed NPs to maintain formal, written collaborative agreements with at least two physicians. Removing the restriction, the brief stated, could improve access to care without harm to patients.
Senate Bill 717, which calls for full practice authority, has been favored by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association, Pennsylvania stakeholders, the AARP, the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and organizations representing the state’s 172,000 nurses, according to the brief.
“Pennsylvania is a national leader in NP education but over 20% of the NPs produced leave for states with full practice authority, which is why the Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association and its 43 nursing school members including the state’s largest universities want SB717 to be passed,” the brief stated.
The bill passed in the Senate and goes to the House this fall. Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners President Lorraine Bock stated in a PCNP press release from July 2016 that “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 healthcare for all residents.”
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners website, there are 21 full practice authority states in the U.S., 16 reduced practice states, (Pennsylvania being one of them), and 13 restricted states. Washington D.C. also exercises full practice authority.
The AANP website states that “implementing full practice authority for nurse practitioners in state practice laws provides patients with direct access to the full services that nurse practitioners are equipped to provide.”
The website listed benefits that include improved access, especially for those in rural and underserved areas; streamlined care by providing patients with direct access; removal of delays in care that are created when a physician’s signature is required; decreased costs; avoiding the duplication of services and billing costs associated with unnecessary physician oversight of nurse practitioner practice; and protection of patient choice, allowing patients to see the healthcare provider they desire.
Bock noted the value of nurses who have supported the bill. “I want to thank each and every one of you for your tireless efforts and continued support for this legislation,” Bock stated on the PCNP website. “This landmark decision marks the first time that the Pennsylvania Senate has voted in favor of allowing for nurse practitioners to offer patients the full extent of their education.”
She added, “Needless to say, we can expect opponents of the bill to be incredibly active in their outreach to legislators — and we must be prepared to do the same.”
Nurses residing in Pennsylvania can contact their local representatives to support the bill.
More information about the bill is available on the Pennsylvania General Assembly website.
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