Monday, September 2, 2013

Nurse Practitioner Bill Suffers A Setback in California

Nurse practitioners in California suffered a setback in their ability to practice independently of physicians if they are part of a medical team such a clinic or group practice. On August 30, 2013, Senate Bill 491 (Hernandez), which would remove patient barriers to health care services by permitting nurse practitioners in California to practice to the full extent of their training and expertise was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill was not voted upon and will not move during this legislative session. The California Medical Association vigorously opposed this bill. The Los Angeles Times' article on SB 491 provides more background on the lobbying and issues present. 

Under current law, NPs have a difficult time providing services at the point of care because of requirements for physician approval to initiate or continue care that patients need.  This bill would increase autonomy for NPs to be able to provide this care. The California Association for Nurse Practitioners viewed SB 491 as especially important with the coming implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the expected influx of up to 7 million new patients into the health care delivery system in California. The Los Angeles Times wrote an article indicating that this is a step in the right direction.

The argument in favor of the bill was that NPs would not be performing outside of their level of education and training, but would be utilized to their full practice potential without the archaic and restrictive barriers that prevent patients from receiving high quality, effective care. In addition, 18 other states and the District of Columbia permit autonomous delivery of primary care services by nurse practitioners.  

We can expect to see a revised bill presented next year regarding expanding the use of nurse practitioners in clinic and group practice settings.

You can reach Ms. Green at tgreen@greenassoc.com or 213-233-2260

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