by Brian Balfour
Senior Vice President of Research, John Locke Foundation
This week legislators introduced an act to expand the scope of practice allowed for advanced practice nurse practitioners (APRNs).
Labeled the SAVE Act, the bill would APRNs to perform more medical duties.
From the NC Insider (subscription required):
Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, who co-chairs the Senate Health Committee, said that passing the bill would lower healthcare costs — not just for the state through Medicaid, but also for people on private health insurance. She cited studies that found that it might save hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars per year by letting nurses perform duties currently reserved for doctors. “We need to take advantage of every single opportunity that we have to make safe, quality healthcare affordable,” she said.
The measure is something the Locke Foundation has advocated for, in large part because it would help increase access to care – especially in rural communities – and help to lower healthcare costs.
Currently, if nurse practitioners want to practice in North Carolina, they must establish a collaborative practice agreement with a physician. The agreement outlines patient management and describes how the providers will interact.
By allowing APRNs to perform duties previously restricted to physicians, and removing the collaborative practice agreement, more patients will be able to receive treatment. And because reimbursements for treatments performed by APRNs would likely be lower than the same treatments performed by a physician, healthcare costs could be lowered. The move would also free up time for physicians, who would no longer be required to file paperwork regarding their supervision of APRNs.
The SAVE Act is hopefully the first of many healthcare reforms that unravel costly restrictions that limit access to care, a list topped by repealing Certificate of Need laws.