Massachusetts Latest To Lift Hurdle To Nurse Practitioners As Covid-19 Rages

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Massachusetts Latest To Lift Hurdle To Nurse Practitioners As Covid-19 Rages

Massachusetts is the latest in a growing number of states giving direct access to nurse practitioners as momentum builds behind legislation to eliminate hurdles for patients who need primary care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed into law legislation that allows nurse practitioners to practice independently, no longer requiring supervision by a physician. There are now 23 states plus the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories that have awarded full practice authority to NPs.

As retail clinics like those run by CVS Health’s Minute Clinic business have proliferated, patients have become more familiar with nurse practitioners as an option to a busy doctor’s office and quick access to treat routine maladies.

 

But policymakers are finding nurse practitioners needed to increase access to primary care and vaccinations amid a shortage of doctors and other healthcare workers, particularly during the pandemic and surge of Covid-19 cases.

“This legislation makes permanent executive orders that allowed NPs to fully respond to Covid-19 and will better position the state to rebuild and meet the health care challenges ahead,” said Leah McKinnon-Howe, a nurse practitioner and AANP’s Massachusetts state representative.

 

As the U.S. distributes vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna across the country to inoculate Americans against Covid-19, nurse practitioners will be critical to the U.S. vaccination effort.

Nurse practitioners are educated to perform myriad primary care functions, diagnose, prescribe medications and conduct physical exams, but state scope-of-practice laws often prevent them from such care unless they have an agreement with an overseeing physician.

 

As the U.S. distributes vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna across the country to inoculate Americans against Covid-19, nurse practitioners will be critical to the U.S. vaccination effort.

Nurse practitioners are educated to perform myriad primary care functions, diagnose, prescribe medications and conduct physical exams, but state scope-of-practice laws often prevent them from such care unless they have an agreement with an overseeing physician.

But the legislation signed by Baker, which also expanded coverage of telehealth services, makes permanent changes to state scope of practice rules to allow greater patient access to nurse practitioners. Several governors across the country that didn’t already have such scope of practice legislation issued executive orders last spring expanding access to medical care providers as Covid-19 cases soared and now some like Massachusetts are making the changes permanent.

“Massachusetts is the latest state to embrace a better care delivery model that recognizes NPs as part of the solution for addressing increasing health care needs,” said AANP President Sophia L. Thomas. “This decision aligns with the evidence and recommendations for NP licensure from leading health policy groups like the National Academy of Medicine. Research shows that states with Full Practice Authority maintain strong safety and quality outcomes and improve both access to care and cost savings.”

Source – https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2021/01/04/massachusetts-latest-to-lift-hurdle-to-nurse-practitioners-as-covid-19-rages/?sh=15eb69cd600f

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