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Nurse Practitioners Salute Nebraska for New Health Care Law
AANP Commemorates 20th State to Grant Patients Full and Direct Access to Nurse Practitioners
AUSTIN, TX (March 5, 2015) – The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) today commends Governor Ricketts and the Nebraska Senate for passing Legislative Bill 107, which grants full-practice authority to Nebraska's nurse practitioner workforce. By adopting the law, Nebraska becomes the twentieth state to authorize nurse practitioners to provide the full scope of services they're educated and clinically trained to deliver, significantly expanding patient access to high-quality health care.
According to AANP, the move makes right last year's turn of events, in which the former Nebraska governor vetoed a similar nurse practitioner bill. He did so on the last day of the 2014 legislative session, thus preventing Nebraska lawmakers from overriding the veto after they unanimously voted to adopt the legislation.
"After a year's delay, Nebraskans will now benefit from a 21st century health care delivery model that has been shown to improve access, reduce wait times and control costs, particularly in rural and underserved communities," said AANP president Ken Miller, PhD, RN, CFNP, FAAN, FAANP. "We urge lawmakers in states considering similar legislation to follow Nebraska's example and move into closer alignment with national recommendations that prioritize the health care needs of patients."
Signed into law on March 5, the new Nebraska measure retires the requirement that nurse practitioners maintain career-long "collaborative agreements" with physicians as a condition of nurse practitioner practice, a mandate that had created obstacles and delayed patient care.
Leading policy groups like the Institute of Medicine have long recommended that states adopt such legislation to improve health care access. They cite extensive data showing nurse practitioners, including those with full-practice authority, have outcomes that are equivalent to those of physicians, and also offer patients a much-needed approach that is highly focused on health promotion and disease prevention.
Independent research further shows nurse practitioners are more likely to live and work where they can serve patients with full-practice authority, a significant issue as the U.S. contends with rising demand for health services nationwide. This has prompted some lawmakers to launch campaigns recruiting nurse practitioners from neighboring states that have yet to eliminate collaborative agreements, a trend that has enormous public health implications as competition grows for high-quality health providers.
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The Senate passed legislation April 14 to reform Medicare fee-for-service payment and extend federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act” (H.R. 2) cleared the Senate on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 92 to 8, after being approved by the House March 26 on a 392 to 37 vote.
In addition to permanently replacing the dysfunctional “sustainable growth rate” (SGR) system for updating Medicare fee-for-service payments with stable updates and a merit-based incentive payment system, H.R. 2 also includes a two-year reauthorization of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) including all provisions of the current law such as increased federal matching assistance percentage (FMAP) payments and maintenance of state eligibility and enrollment efforts. Senators rejected an amendment to extend CHIP funding an additional two years.
The bill also includes provisions enabling nurse practitioners to document face-to-face evaluations for durable medical equipment orders and extends a number of expiring Medicare and Medicaid policies, including a two-year reauthorization of funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.