News: Nursing Policy

Nurses push states' to allow them to perform more treatments

Wednesday, May 8, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Melissa Moody
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April 16, 2-13 (The Washington Post) For years, nurses have been subordinate to doctors, both in the exam room and the political arena.

But aided by new allies ranging from AARP to social workers to health-policy experts, nursing groups are pressing a controversial bid to persuade state lawmakers to shift the balance of power.

In 11 states, they are pushing legislation that would permit nurses with a master’s degree or higher to order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and administer treatments without physician oversight. Similar legislation is likely to be introduced soon in three other states.

 


 

If the proposals, which face vehement opposition from some physicians’ groups, succeed, the number of states allowing nurses to practice without any type of physician supervision would increase to 30 from 16, in addition to the District of Columbia.

The broader authority being proposed around the country could spur tens of thousands of nurses to set up primary-care practices that would be virtually indistinguishable from those run by doctors. Currently, about 6,000 nurses operate their own independent primary-care practices.

"We have a ready-made, no-added-cost workforce in place that could be providing care at a much higher level if we modernize our state laws,” said Taynin Kopanos, director of health policy and state issues for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. "So the question for states is, are you going to fully deploy this resource or not?”

The nurses’ last big legislative push, a state-by-state effort that began in the late 1980s, sputtered by the early 1990s. This time, however, the campaign is being coordinated nationally by the AANP and other nursing groups and is getting a critical boost from consumer advocates and state officials concerned about the 2010 health-care law’s looming impact on the availability of doctors.

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