Securing full-scope authority for nurse practitioners in all 50 states is an ongoing priority for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and will continue to be a major theme at the AANP 2015 meeting.
Achieving this goal will allow patients a choice in whom they select for their health care provider. Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia allow NPs to practice to the full scope of their education and skills. In 2015, 12 more states will attempt to pass legislation that allows NPs that authority.
The AANP is actively lobbying for changes in laws, rules, and regulations to replace many of the outdated laws that deny NPs parity with other health care providers, both in terms of reimbursement for performance of identical procedures and scope of practice issues.
Many legislators do not understand the role or the education of NPs, so it is important that we become politically active to educate legislators about how NPs can help meet the workforce shortage of health care providers for their constituents. Because of policy controls practice, all NPs should work with their legislators to effect these changes.
Data from as far back as the mid-1970s indicate that health care provided by NPs is equivalent to, and in some cases, better than care provided by our physician colleagues.
During the next five years, NPs will become the gateway for primary care in this country. Recent data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicate that 62.4% of all NP graduates are choosing the family NP role. These NPs will provide the backbone for primary care in this country. The number of physician graduates from family practice programs has been declining for more than a decade, and our physician colleagues are not always able to fill their residency slots. At the same time, the number of NPs in primary care has been increasing annually.
Several other important NP legislative issues include the following:
- Updating the Veterans Administration (VA) handbook so that all VA nurses, regardless of what state they work in, will be able to practice to their full scope. Currently, VA nurses are limited by state statutes.
- Changing the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid (CMS) Durable Medical Equipment law, which would require a physician to document that another health care provider (i.e., NP, PA, or CNS) has had a face-to-face encounter with the patient within six months before an order is written. The House has passed the resolution, and the Senate will address it soon.
- Passing legislation that would authorize NPs to certify that patients under their care are eligible for Home Health Care Services.
Kenneth P. Miller, PhD, RN, CFNP, FAAN, FAANP, is the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.