Expanding Role of NPs Could Save California $1.8B Over 10 Years
California could reduce health care spending by $1.8 billion over the next decade if nurse practitioners were allowed a broader scope of practice, according to a report by the Bay Area Economic Institute, FierceHealthcare reports.
The report found that expanding nurse practitioners' scope of practice and allowing them to practice independently from physicians is "one of the most effective steps" to increasing access to primary care services in the wake of 3.3 million newly insured California residents under the Affordable Care Act.
According to the report, the number of nurse practitioners in the state increased from 8,240 in 2004 to more than 17,000 in 2008, accounting for about 6% of all nurses in the state.
The report found that there would be about 4,000 more -- a 24% increase -- nurse practitioners in California if the state expanded their scope of practice.
According to the researchers, increasing the number of nurse practitioners in the state would:
- Boost rural and low-income communities' access to care;
- Allow for about two million more annual preventive care visits in the state, a 10.3% increase; and
- Lower costs.
In a release, Beth Haney -- president of the California Association for Nurse Practitioners -- said, "It's clear from this report that allowing nurse practitioners to practice the health care they've been trained for is a key to making the [ACA] work effectively in California."
She added, "It's time the Legislature realize the cost savings, increase in access and improvement in quality that will come from changing the law to remove the barriers to practice for nurse practitioners in California" (Sullivan, FierceHealthcare, 5/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.