Survey Bolsters Nurse Practitioner Bill

A survey slated for release today shows a majority of seniors support legislation to expand the work of nurse practitioners, according to AARP, a senior advocacy group that has strongly lobbied for legislation that will do just that.  

SB 323 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) has passed the Senate and is working its way through the Assembly. AARP — which used to be known as the American Association of Retired Persons but now goes only by the AARP acronym — is a sponsor of the legislation.

The survey polled 800 registered voters over age 45 in California, and found that:

  • 72% of those polled support the legislation;
  • About half of those surveyed (51%) have seen a nurse practitioner at some point and about 87% of those people rated care as good or excellent; and
  • Three-quarters of the seniors surveyed (75%) said it’s either very or somewhat important that nurse practitioners be allowed to provide complete primary care.

The California Medical Association, which opposes to the bill, released a floor alert earlier this week that sums up the CMA position.

“SB 323 … reverses 40 years of policy that has maintained high quality health care for every Californian by allowing lesser trained practitioners to practice medicine without providing adequate patient protections and medical standards,” the CMA alert said.

The supervision of nurse practitioners by physicians is important to maintain, CMA officials said, because of the higher level of training for an M.D.

“Since SB 323 assigns increased patient care responsibilities to nurse practitioners, it is imperative that patient protections be in place to ensure that their professional judgment and loyalty to the patient cannot be compromised,” the CMA statement said.

Blanca Castro, California advocacy director for AARP, said nurse practitioners should be allowed to practice to their level of training.

“This survey really highlights the fact that people trust nurse practitioners to provide quality primary care services,” Castro said in a prepared statement. “People are already receiving quality care from nurse practitioners, who have extensive education and training in providing primary care services.”

The bill is scheduled to be heard June 30 in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.

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