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FTC: Don’t Limit APRNs Crucial Role in Health Care

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently released a policy paper suggesting that state legislators should be cautious when evaluating legislative proposals to limit the scope of practice of Advance Practice Registered Nurses (“APRNs”). The FTC is concerned that by imposing more stringent physician supervision requirements, APRNS are effectively being restricted by another type of health care professional (the physician) thereby denying consumers the benefits of greater competition. This is especially troubling in light of the significant shortage of primary care practitioners in the U.S. By allowing APRNs to practice without heavier regulatory burdens, access to health care can be increased and possibly lead to “lower costs, better care, and more innovation,” according to the FTC.

Kentucky legislators have taken note of the important role APRNs play in the health care setting and jumped into action. The first bill to pass the legislature during the 2014 General Session was Senate Bill 7, which expands the prescribing authority for more experienced APRNs. Pursuant to the bill, APRNs who have been prescribing for four years with a collaborative agreement under the supervision of a physician will be permitted to prescribe nonscheduled legend drugs independently. APRNs who have been prescribing routine medications in another state for at least four years, either independently or pursuant to a collaborative agreement, will also be eligible for independent prescribing in Kentucky. In addition, the bill creates a Collaborative Prescribing Agreement Joint Advisory Committee that will oversee a program to allow for improved collaboration between APRNs and practicing physicians.

The Governor signed the bill into law on February 13, 2014. Because the bill did not contain an effective date, it will become effective by default 90 days after the General Session adjournment.

According to a Deloitte Consulting review done in 2013, Kentucky needs 3,790 additional physicians (including primary care doctors and specialists) and 5,635 more registered nurses to meet the state’s current health care needs. The FTC’s policy paper realizes what many in the industry have known for a while: demand is rapidly exceeding supply. By reducing the red tape that APRNs, PAs, and other non-traditional health care providers must comply with, the focus can be shifted back to where it should be – on the patient.

If you have questions about Senate Bill 7 or collaborative agreements, contact a McBrayer health care attorney today.

This article is intended as a summary of federal or state law and does not constitute legal advice.

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