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Study: Give Nurse Practitioners Full Practice Authority

A new study from the Center for Health Outcomes & Policy Research (CHOPR) found that nurse practitioners (NPs) would be 20 percent more likely to work in primary care in Pennsylvania if state lawmakers eliminated unnecessary collaborative agreement requirements and enacted full practice authority for NPs.

The study – recently published in Medical Care Research and Review – comes as the state Senate considers action on Senate Bill 717, which will modernize state law for NPs as a way to boost quality, lower costs and expand access to health care throughout Pennsylvania

The research, led by Hilary Barnes, PhD, CRNP, Postdoctoral Fellow at CHOPR, found in states that reimburse Medicaid for NP services at 100 percent of the physician fee-for-service rate, practices with NPs were 23 percent more likely to accept Medicaid than practices without NPs. In Pennsylvania, which already reimburses Medicaid at 100 percent, removing scope of practice restrictions would significantly increase the number of NPs in primary care settings, resulting in greater access for underserved populations — including the elderly, Medicaid patients and rural communities.

Hilary Barnes, lead researcher and Postdoctoral fellow at CHOPRHilary Barnes, lead researcher and Postdoctoral fellow at CHOPR

Removing practice restrictions in Pennsylvania could improve healthcare delivery in the state by increasing the number of NPs by 13 percent and lower health care costs by $6.4 billion over the next ten years according to a July 2015 study from Duke University School of Law.

The CHOPR study – based on a national sample of more than 250,000 outpatient care practices—was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Co-authors include CHOPR Director, Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, and Matthew McHugh, PhD, JD, RN, Associate Professor.