Friday, May 2, 2014

Expanding Scope of Practice for NPs could save California nearly $2 Billion

Over the next 10 years, California could improve patients access to health care and save $1.8 billion in medical costs if nurse practitioners (NPs) were allowed to practice to the full extent of their education and training, according to a new report from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP. INQRI grantee Joanne Spetz contributed to the report.

According to the Council, with 3.3 million more Californians having access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, allowing NPs to practice independently from doctors is "one of the most effective steps" the state could take to meet the expected increase in demand for primary care providers, FierceHealthcare reports. Expanding scope of practice would increase the number of NPs practicing by 24 percent and would also allow more currently medically underserved communities to gain access to care.

The report reveals that full practice authority for NPs is associated with lower costs for common procedures and does not decrease quality of care: "In states with limited NP practice authority, the average cost for a preventative care visit can be as much as $16 higher than in states with full practice authority. We estimate scope of practice reform in California would save $1.8 billion in the cost of preventative care visits alone over the first ten years."
  • The Council's report is available here.
  • A statement on the report from the California Association for Nurse Practitioners is available here.
The INQRI-funded study "Scope-Of-Practice Laws For Nurse Practitioners Limit Cost Savings That Can Be Achieved In Retail Clinics” was co-led by Spetz and Stephen Parente.

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