Yesterday afternoon, sponsors of the SAVE Act gathered a stakeholder meeting at the North Carolina General Assembly. The SAVE Act is a piece of legislation that would modernize the regulations that govern advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). More specifically, the bill would remove restrictive collaborative practice agreements that limit the ability of these nurses to practice freely wherever they would like.

Stakeholders from public policy, medicine, nursing, retirement, and academic groups all showed up to either speak in favor or opposition of the bill. In total 18 different speakers participated in the meeting.

The John Locke Foundation has long been supportive of modernizing nurse regulations around APRNs. During yesterdays meeting, I spoke in favor of the bill and offered the following statement:

Good afternoon my name is Jordan Roberts, and I am a Government Affairs associate with the John Locke Foundation. Prior to this role, I spent 2 and half years researching and writing about health care policy in North Carolina. I am here today to speak in favor of the SAVE Act.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a lot of the problems in North Carolina’s health care system, namely a lack of proper supply of health care evenly distributed across the state. One policy tool that we have right in front of us to combat this is the SAVE Act, which will empower highly qualified nurses to practice at the top of their license in whatever location they would like, free from restrictive and arbitrary regulations.

Removing restrictive supervisory requirements, as the SAVE Act does, is not some radical idea. As of today, North Carolina is one of eleven states which require nurse practitioners to be supervised by a physician under restricted practice. North Carolina is also only one of three states that require certified nurse-midwives to practice under the supervision of a physician. Other states have realized the benefits of allowing these highly trained professionals to practice at the top of their licenses. It’s time for North Carolina to do the same. 

The need for an ample health care supply, especially for our rural areas is critical. We need to fully utilize our health care workforce and encourage other highly qualified professionals to come and practice in our state. The SAVE Act is a great first step and one the John Locke Foundation fully supports. 

For years, interested parties have tried to free APRNs from burdensome regulations that hinder their ability to practice with full authority. It’s a policy decision that is long overdue in our state. North Carolina’s health system problems will not be completely solved if this bill were to pass, but we can be sure there will be more opportunities for well-trained professionals to serve communities in ways they can’t under the current system.