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Federal Trade Commission: APRN practice benefits healthcare

Wednesday March 12, 2014
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The Federal Trade Commission issued a policy paper suggesting that state legislators should be cautious when evaluating proposals to limit the scope of practice of advanced practice registered nurses.

By limiting the range of services APRNs may provide and the extent to which they can practice independently, such proposals may reduce competition that benefits consumers, the paper states.

Even “well-intentioned laws and regulations may impose unnecessary, unintended or overbroad restrictions on competition, thereby depriving healthcare consumers of the benefits of vigorous competition,” according to the paper.

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners called the paper a valuable new resource for legislators weighing the impact of state licensure laws on patient populations.

“Like the FTC, we believe that competition among healthcare providers results in greater access, lower costs and quality improvement,” Kenneth Miller, RN, PhD, CFNP, FAAN, co-president of AANP, said in a news release. “Full patient access to high-quality nurse practitioner services is essential for making such competition a reality.”

The FTC paper, “Policy Perspectives: Competition and the Regulation of Advanced Practice Nurses,” notes the potential benefits of improved competition in the provision of primary healthcare services. Staff members cite research suggesting that APRNs provide safe and effective care within the scope of their training, certification and licensure.

In addition, health policy experts have warned of significant shortages of primary care practitioners across the U.S., and have suggested that APRNs might help to alleviate healthcare access problems if undue regulatory burdens were reduced. Moreover, effective collaboration among healthcare providers, including team-based care, does not always require physician supervision of APRNs.

“State legislation that prevents full and direct access for patients has the potential to further hamper our healthcare delivery system,” Angela K. Golden, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, co-president of AANP, said in the news release. “It is our hope that legislators pay close attention to the analysis of the FTC and honor the healthcare needs of their constituents.”

The policy paper sets forth recommended principles for evaluating APRN scope-of-practice proposals. As the policy paper states, “Numerous expert healthcare policy organizations have concluded that expanded APRN scope of practice should be a key component of our nation’s strategy to deliver effective healthcare efficiently and, in particular, to fill gaps in primary care access. Based on our extensive knowledge of healthcare markets, economic principles and competition theory, the FTC staff reach the same conclusion: Expanded APRN scope of practice is good for competition and American consumers.”

The policy paper is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to promote competition in the healthcare sector, which benefits consumers through lower costs, better care, and more innovation.

Paper: www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/policy-perspectives-competition-regulation-advanced-practice-nurses/140307aprnpolicypaper.pdf


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