Florida's Health Care Crises: The Advanced Practice Nurse Solution
One million Floridians have inadequate access to basic health care. Three million have joined Florida's Medicaid insurance program through the Affordable Care Act. Forty-eight percent of physicians in Florida are expected to retire in the next 10 years. Florida needs an estimated 3,000-5,000 primary care providers over the next 5-10 years. Medical schools cannot graduate enough physicians to meet the need. Florida, however, is restricting Nurse Practitioners (NPs) from being able to help ease this physician shortage.
Nurse Practitioners provide primary and acute health care services by diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications and treating diseases. They also provide inpatient hospital care, emergency and urgent care, and provide psychiatric care.NPs must earn Masters and Doctoral degrees and pass national certification examinations to qualify for a license to practice and care for patients in Florida.
Numerous studies show that Nurse Practitioners deliver safe high quality cost effective care equal to that of physicians. They are available to immediately meet the needs of medically under served Floridians, without added costs.There are 18,000 Nurse Practitioners in Florida. State wide Florida graduates 300-500 new NPs each year.
NPs can save this state millions annually. Florida's Medicaid expenditures are projected to be 22 billion dollars. Florida's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability issued a Research Memorandum of December 30, 2010. It stated that if NPs were utilized to their full scope of education and training, the state would save hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The Institute of Medicine released a report in October of 2010 that recommends removal of all scope of practice restrictions on NPs as a way to drive down costs, while increasing high quality access to primary health care.
Unlike most states, Florida has several laws that restrict full utilization of these highly qualified health care professionals.
These barriers include the need to have a supervisory agreement with a Florida Licensed physician, inability to involuntarily commit a suicidal patient under the Baker Act, inability to sign death certificates, lack of recognition as primary care providers on Medicaid and Medicare and private insurance company provider panels and other restrictions.
As a result, NPs cannot deliver health care to Floridians and often must send patients to the emergency room for care they otherwise could treat. These restrictions place heavy burdens on certain populations of patients, especially those who receive Medicaid, and live in rural areas. These restrictions drive up the costs of care. Costs the taxpayers of Florida cannot afford to pay.
Removing the restrictions that prevent Nurse Practitioners from practicing to their full extent requires no additional dollars be added to our state budget and will have immediate impact on decreasing emergency room visits and increasing access to health care.
Floridians are being denied access to health care. It's time to remove those barriers