Bill to empower nurse practitioners divides professional organizations

Washington A bill moving through the California Legislature that aims to boost the primary care work force by allowing some nurse practitioners to practice independently has run into resistance from physician and nursing organizations alike, who oppose the current measure for opposite reasons.

Despite some recent revisions to narrow the circumstances in which nurse practitioners could set up shop on their own, the physician organizations insisted that the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect patient safety or encourage needed collaboration with doctors. Other key groups in the state withdrew their support on the basis that the newly amended version would heighten the liability risk for nurse practitioners.

Earlier in 2013, state Sen. Ed Hernandez, OD, drafted several scope-of-practice bills to empower more primary care professionals in light of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions in 2014. “What good is a health insurance card if you can’t get into see a health care provider when you need one?” Hernandez asked in March, when he introduced the legislation. According to a statement on his website, California already faces a primary care shortage, a problem that will escalate when 7 million more individuals seek new coverage under the ACA starting in 2014.

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