NPs Rebuke Controversial Report

Nurse Practitioners, Lawmaker Assail Physician Group's Study on Patient Care

The California Association for Nurse Practitioners (CANP) today criticized a controversial report by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) that attacked the growing role of nurse practitioners in meeting the needs of the millions of new Americans that will be receiving health care under the Affordable Care Act.

The group was joined by State Senate Health Committee Chairman Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Los Angeles), who noted the report "flies in the face" of legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Saturday (Senate Bill 1524) that gave nurse practitioners new tools to treat patients.

The report, "Primary Care for the 21st Century - Ensuring a Quality Physician-Led Team for Every Patient," suggests that having nurse practitioners play a greater role in patient care would create a "two-tier" health care system. CANP President Beth Haney disagrees with the conclusion, noting that with four million more Californians expected to enter the state's health care system because of the Affordable Care Act, nurse practitioners will need to play more critical roles in delivering patient care.

California, she says, is already leading the way in allowing nurse practitioners to have more medical responsibilities; legislation backed by CANP (SB 1524, by Senator Ed Hernandez) that would give nurse practitioners greater ability to "furnish" drugs and medical devices immediately after they are licensed passed the Legislature overwhelmingly this year and was signed by the Governor.

"It is disappointing that this report, that claims to focus on the future of health care in the 21st century, incorporates 19th century concepts of the role of nurse practitioners," says Beth Haney, CANP President. "The Affordable Care Act will make nurse practitioners more important -- not less -- in being part of a patient-center health care team that shares overlapping knowledge and skills. This attempt by the AAFP to limit the ability of nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their education and training will limit the ability of Californians to access the quality health care they deserve. California’s nurse practitioners stand ready to provide care to California’s newly insured.”

State Senator Ed Hernandez agreed with Haney's critique of the study. "This report flies in the face of health care policy we are instituting in California and the steps we are taking to ensure that people who will soon be mandated to purchase health insurance are actually able to use it to see a provider," he said. "As the Legislature is developing strategies to assure that more Californians receive quality, affordable health care, we need to make certain that nurse practitioners are equal partners in the patient care team."

Haney and Sen. Hernandez note that the study's findings are directly contrary to the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Studies published in the Journal of American Medicine show that the quality of care and health outcomes of patients cared for by physicians and nurse practitioners is equal.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses who are licensed by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and have pursued higher education, typically a master’s or doctorate degree, and many have specialty in a particular aspect of health care. NPs play an important role in the health care delivery system and provide care in a variety of settings including hospitals, community clinics, and private practice settings including in many medically underserved communities.

There are approximately 17,000 nurse practitioners licensed by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) in California.