With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, people who have never seen a doctor will be seeking new providers and more preventative care. In the U.S. today, there exists a shortage of approximately 16,000 primary care doctors.
A bill, introduced into the PA Senate by Senators Patricia Vance, Stewart Greenleaf, and Chuck McIlhinney, among others, would modernize The Professional Nursing Law in Pennsylvania, and is aimed at closing the provider gap by enabling Nurse Practitioners (NPs), to practice independently, thus expanding the pool of qualified primary care providers. The PA Senate Bill (SB 1063) currently is in the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.
The Commonwealth licenses and certifies approximately 8,000 NPs at this time. The existing law requires NPs work with written collaboration with doctors. By allowing independent practice, access to care can increase. The Institute of Medicine, National Governor’s Association, AARP, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Affordable Care Act and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid support doing away with the mandatory collaborative practice agreements. Pennsylvania can join with other states (currently 17 plus the District of Columbia and increasing weekly), by recognizing the full potential of these providers.
Finally, it is important to note that 95% of NPs are women, who deserve to earn an income that matches their education, certification and experience. Pennsylvania should not allow itself to be put into the position where these providers either relocate or travel to another state to practice.
For more information, read Pennsylvania: It’s About Time – Ten Reasons to Give Nurse Practitioners the Freedom to Do Their Job, a document compiled by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners.
Now retired, Judie Much is certified as an Advanced Oncology Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP). She is an active member of the BCWAC Health Care Committee and the Soroptimist International of Bucks County.