Senate Acts to Improve Health Access, Lower Costs

All Pennsylvanians deserve access to quality, affordable health care. That's why it was encouraging to see the Senate advance SB 25 out of the Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee.

Sen. Bartolotta's legislation rolls back an onerous regulation on certified nurse practitioners (NPs) that prevents many Pennsylvania residents from receiving care. Currently, NPs—medical professionals who interpret tests, treat chronic conditions, and prescribe medication—must sign collaborative agreements with two physicians. The physicians do not directly supervise the NP and seldom interact with the patients being treated by the NP.

These contracts may cost up to $25,000 per year. NPs provide many of the same functions as medical doctors, yet they are currently required to submit to indefinite collaborative agreements, which are expensive, anticompetitive, and lower the supply of health care. Fortunately, SB 25 limits the time NPs are bound by collaborative agreements to 3 years and 3,600 hours. 

CF has long supported legislation to provide NPs with full practice authority. Many studies indicate that NPs achieve similar or better health outcomes than physicians. Allowing NPs to fully utilize their skills is especially important for patients in rural areas where it is hard to find collaborating physicians. 

It's time for Pennsylvania to join 22 other states that empower NPs with full practice authority. By passing SB 25, we can allow NPs to do what they do best: provide quality, affordable care to patients in need.