Bills that would allow nurse practitioners to care for patients without doctor supervision are making their way through five state legislatures right now. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are all in the mix, but it’s in California that the battle has gotten particularly hot. WSJ:
The California Medical Association, representing some 37,000 doctors, has spent more than $1 million to defeat the bill, arguing that allowing NPs to open practices without physician oversight would “ultimately harm patients and decrease quality of care.”
This campaign didn’t stop the state Assembly from passing a version of the bill this week, but in the process the legislation was amended to restrict the scope of the powers it was granting. Now the national nurse practitioner’s group has withdrawn its support, leaving state nurse practitioners to fight the California Medical Association on their own. The battle is likely to grow even more bitter.
We hope some form of this legislation passes in all five states. There’s undoubtedly plenty of room to argue over specifics, but as this excellent Matt Ygelisas post points out (we covered it here), there’s actually no evidence that the quality of care delivered by nurse practitioners is systematically worse than that delivered by doctors, and nurse practitioners can do it at a lower cost.