In the recent article “Scope-of-practice bills stoke debate over caregivers’ roles,” the American Medical Association applauded the defeat of legislation in New Jersey that would expand patients’ access to care, in favor of stagnant regulations that needlessly strain the healthcare system. Their opposition ignores the primary-care crisis in America and a time-tested solution.
According to HHS, 80 million Americans lack adequate access to primary care, especially in rural areas. At the same time, the primary-care workforce is shrinking. By 2030, it is estimated that the country will face shortages of more than 120,000 primary-care physicians.
It is critical to acknowledge that there is an obvious solution to this crisis facing our country—270,000 licensed nurse practitioners. NPs are the healthcare providers of choice for millions of patients across the country. The confidence these patients have in NPs is evidenced by more than a billion visits made to NPs annually.
Fifty years of data affirms the safety and quality of NP-delivered care. Today, 8 of the top 10 healthiest states grant NPs full practice authority, while the 10 least-healthy states cling to outdated policies espoused by organized medicine, which limits patient access to care.
NPs should be empowered to practice at the top of their license, which reduces hospitalizations and readmissions, and improves healthcare outcomes.
To suggest that only physicians deliver quality primary care is both misleading and disingenuous. NPs and policymakers are working together to ensure all patients have access to the provider of their choice. We call on physicians to stop protecting the broken status quo and start partnering with us to ensure patients get full and direct access to timely healthcare services.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners