May 26, 2022
On Thursday, both the Senate Health and Senate Finance committees voted to approve H149, an omnibus healthcare bill that includes language granting full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. This represents the first time any committee has approved this type of reform, representing a major step forward for APRN modernization. Before the vote in Senate Health, NCNA CEO Tina Gordon spoke to the committee in favor of the legislation. Here are her prepared remarks:
I am Tina Gordon, CEO of the North Carolina Nurses Association, the professional organization that represents our state’s 150,000 registered nurses. NCNA applauds Senate leaders for your work to increase access to care through coverage and also through direct access to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). This is the fourth consecutive session that legislation like the SAVE Act has been introduced – this session by a bipartisan group of more than 100 legislators. The truth is: this has never been a radical or risky idea. The policy is already in place in half of the country and the need for this legislation in our state has become increasingly urgent.
As North Carolina claws its way out of the pandemic, access to high quality, affordable healthcare is more important than ever – and this legislation achieves that. It’s been over five years since Duke economist Chris Conover presented his study to the NCGA and he provided evidence to support his statement that “Modernizing North Carolina’s regulation of APRNs would allow North Carolina residents to enjoy better access to care of equivalent or better quality even as the health system sheds some avoidable costs in the process.” It saves hundreds of millions of dollars, adds thousands of jobs, and helps alleviate the physician shortage. Since this study, legislative support, external support and the need for the SAVE Act have all grown, while opponents of the legislation cling firmly to the status quo.
APRNs are full partners on the healthcare team. But the most trusted profession in the country does not need legal requirements to mandate appropriate and ethical collaboration. This outdated red tape simply prevents qualified healthcare experts from caring for patients who desperately need them.
North Carolina is currently experiencing significant provider shortages in all areas of the state, far worse than the predictions of pre-pandemic models, and shortages are expected to worsen. We must position our state to better attract and retain APRNs, while utilizing our existing provider resources as efficiently as possible.
The bottom line is the evidence overwhelmingly supports these proposed improvements and the people of North Carolina want these changes. A 2019 poll from AARP North Carolina showed 86 percent of Republicans and Democrats support full practice authority for APRNs. The SAVE Act is bipartisan, evidence-based, will improve health outcomes, will increase access to quality care, and save North Carolinians money. Thank you.