Nurse Practitioner Battle is back on in Pennsylvania

Debate about the role of nurse practitioners is heating up again in Pennsylvania, as a Senate committee approved a proposal similar to one that stalled after being approved by the full Senate last year.

Currently, nurse practitioners are required to have collaborative agreements with two doctors. Senate Bill 25 and House Bill 100 propose to lift that requirement and allow them to practice on their own after logging 3,600 hours under a collaborative agreement. 

Opposing the legislation, strongly, is the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Supporting the legislation are organizations ranging from the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania to AARP to Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

Supporters point out that 22 states currently give nurse practitioners full practice authority under the state board of nursing to do everything their certification allows, without requiring doctors to be involved. They say that leads to higher quality, increased access and lower cost.

Opponents say giving nurse practitioners full practice authority has not substantially decreased costs or increased access to care, with those states continuing to struggle with the same issues Pennsylvania faces. They also say it’s vital that doctors lead health care teams, emphasizing that completing medical school and residency takes seven years, while becoming a nurse practitioner takes three years or less of graduate school. 

Senate Bill 25; Regular Session 2017-2018

An Act amending the act of May 22, 1951 (P.L.317, No.69), known as The Professional Nursing Law, further providing for definitions, for State Board of Nursing, for dietitian-nutritionist license required, for temporary practice permit, for graduates of schools of other states, territories or Dominion of Canada, for certified registered nurse practitioners, for scope of practice for certified registered nurse practitioners, for prescriptive authority for certified registered nurse practitioners, for Drug Review Committee and for professional liability; and providing for the expiration of the State Board of Nursing’s power to license certified registered nurse practitioners.

House Bill 100; Regular Session 2017-2018

An Act amending the act of May 22, 1951 (P.L.317, No.69), known as The Professional Nursing Law, further providing for definitions; and providing for licensure as a certified nurse practitioner.