AANP president: NPs can solve the shortage of US healthcare providers

Nurse practitioners can solve the issue of limited healthcare access in the U.S., wrote Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, in an op-ed for The Hill.

 The country will be short over 120,000 primary care physicians by 2030, Dr. Thomas wrote. In contrast, the number of NPs is expected to grow by 6.8 percent every year between 2016 and 2030. NP care is associated with decreased hospitalizations and readmissions and improved health outcomes, Dr. Thomas wrote, making NPs "an under-utilized asset."

NPs in all 50 states can assess patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, develop treatment plans and prescribe medications, Dr. Thomas wrote. Over 75 percent are trained in primary care areas. Still, 60 percent of states have not granted NPs full practice authority, and Dr. Thomas argued such regulations restrict NP practice rights and block patients from care access. 

In addition to expanding FPA laws, states should allow NPs to sign their own care forms instead of requiring them to obtain third-party signatures. They should also create new reimbursement methods to ensure coverage of NP care, wrote Dr. Thomas. At the federal level, Congress should pass the bipartisan Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 296/H.R. 2150) to expand patients' access to NPs nationwide.

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