Groups Seek Changes To Encourage Retail Clinics
Owners of retail medical clinics, health care consultants and economists are proposing changes to California laws that would grant more authority to nurse practitioners and reduce physician oversight requirements, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The growing trend in medical retail clinics throughout the country has been slow in California in part because of laws that require a higher level of physician oversight for nurse practitioners than other states, a requirement that increases operating costs for the clinics.
Current California law permits one physician to supervise up to four nurse practitioners. Furthermore, the clinics must be part of a medical corporation owned by a physician, who then hires nurse practitioners or physician assistants.
In other states, clinic companies can directly hire and staff nurse practitioners, according to the Times.
Mary Kate Scott, a health care consultant who wrote a report on retail clinics for the California HealthCare Foundation, said the low treatment costs at clinics are beneficial to uninsured patients and could help alleviate overcrowding in emergency departments.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in his health care reform proposal earlier this month also supported changing regulations to give nurse practitioners more authority.
Sandra Bressler -- vice president of medical and regulatory policy for the California Medical Association, which opposes changes to the current law -- said the regulations are intended to protect consumers and provide oversight of health care (Roan, Los Angeles Times, 1/22).