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Increasing Access to Care

April 17, 2017

By Thompson Forbes and Mary Graff
The Daily Reflector

We support House Bill 88/Senate Bill 73, the Modernize Nursing Practice Act, and know that patients across the state do, too.

Under current law, many Advanced Practice Registered Nurses must be “supervised” by a physician. “Supervised" does not mean what you might think. Physicians are not looking over APRNs’ shoulders, checking charts and diagnosing illnesses. Actually, a physician never has to actually see an APRN’s patients; they don’t even have to work in the same city. Often, the outdated “supervision” requirement means little more than a couple meetings per year with a physician who can charge the APRN thousands in fees.

We wholeheartedly agree that the General Assembly should oppose legislation that does not improve patient safety and quality of care. Evidence is vital to health care, and the scare tactics used by opponents to this bill are simply not rooted in evidence. Research over the last 40 years has shown time and again that APRNs provide high quality care that is comparably safe to that of physicians for overlapping care.

The main goal of this bill is to remove the superfluous and expensive “supervision” requirement. A recent Duke University study shows that North Carolina would save at least $433 million per year with this type of legislation while increasing access for many people who lack quality care. After Arizona passed similar legislation, the number of nurse practitioners providing care to rural communities jumped by 73 percent within five years. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see those results for North Carolina patients?

Similar bills have already been passed in many other states, and not one has subsequently seen the need to revert back. We applaud the legislators working to pass HB 88/SB 73 so that APRNs can fully utilize their training to provide care for the people of North Carolina.

Thompson Forbes
Northeast regional director, North Carolina Nurses Association

Mary Graff
President, North Carolina Nurses Association

Click here to read the letter at The Daily Reflector.