ICYMI: Nurses can do more to meet the nation’s health needs

Feb 10, 2020 by AFP

United States of Care Executive Director Emily Barson and Americans for Prosperity Vice President, Economic Opportunity Russ Latino | USA Today


More than 100,000 doctors. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? That’s the shortage of doctors the U.S. health care system could face in a little more than a decade.


As our population continues to age, the need for health care providers will grow at the same time the number of physicians headed into retirement will also increase. This will leave dangerous gaps in patient care, especially in rural communities and other underserved areas.


Those gaps can be filled by nurse practitioners – registered nurses who have completed additional training and education, and obtain national board certification in specialty areas such as midwifery, pediatrics, family medicine, adult medicine, obstetrics-gynecology and neonatal medicine.

Our organizations, United States of Care and Americans for Prosperity, agree that states should permit nurse practitioners to work at the full scope of their education and training.

Although progress has occurred in recent years, 28 states still impose unnecessary restrictions on the ability of nurse practitioners to deliver care.

These kinds of restrictions might be worthwhile if they resulted in better care for patients. Instead, they disrupt patient care. About 63 million people lack easy access to a primary care provider and live in states that restrict nurse practitioners.

Studies show that patients have confidence in the care they receive from nurses. A Duke University study concluded that nurse practitioners provided comparable or superior primary care, better results, and equal or higher levels of patient satisfaction compared with physicians.


In addition, a study by economists at Brandeis University found nurses charge patients 29% less for health evaluations and 11% less for in-patient care than physicians. That saves patients money. It also saves taxpayers money because lower costs mean lower expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid.

Reforms to allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their training have expanded care, cut costs and saved lives. Twenty-two states, the District of Columbia and the Veterans Health Administration have removed this barrier: State lawmakers in the remaining 28 states should do the same.


Emily Barson is executive director of United States of Care. Russ Latino is vice president, economic opportunity, at Americans for Prosperity, where he oversees the organization’s health care work.


For further information or to set up an interview, please send an email to GCipriano@afphq.org.

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