Free Market Solution Expands Access to Care

Harmful regulations prevent Pennsylvania’s nurse practitioners—highly-trained medical professionals who interpret diagnostic tests, treat chronic conditions, and prescribe medication—from doing what they do best: providing quality health care for patients in need.

State law currently requires nurse practitioners to enter into expensive contracts, called collaborative agreements, with two physicians. These contracts cost nurse practitioners up to $25,000 per year, but they do not serve the public interest. They do not improve the quality of care for patients. And they do not promote health care access.

Collaborative agreements simply serve as barriers for nurse practitioners to enter the marketplace.

Earlier this week, hundreds of nurse practitioners gathered in Harrisburg to lobby for full practice authority—which would allow them to practice without expensive collaborative agreements. HB 765, sponsored by Rep. Topper, and SB 717, sponsored by Sen. Vance, would make Pennsylvania the 22nd state to grant full practice authority.

An amendment recently offered by Sen. Boscola establishes full practice authority after nurse practitioners first abide by collaborative agreements for 3 years and 3600 hours. This compromise was endorsed by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association, which clears an important legislative hurdle.

These bills present an incredible opportunity to lower prices, increase access, and sustain high quality medical care. Every study conducted about nurse practitioners demonstrates they achieve equal or better patient health outcomes

Care provided by nurse practitioners is not only equal in quality, it is less expensive. Since Medicaid reimburses at lower rates for nurse practitioners than physicians, full practice authority will save taxpayer dollars—unlike many other state-funded health care proposals which rely on higher taxes.

Most importantly, full practice authority is a triumph for health care in rural or underserved areas—since these are precisely the areas where collaborating physicians are hard to find. The bills championed by Rep. Topper and Sen. Vance, which currently sit in committee, will increase access to high quality care without costing taxpayers a dime—the epitome of free market health care.