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Full Practice Authority Would Benefit All Oklahomans

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This year, the Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners is proud to be working with Rep. Josh Cockroft on legislation that will improve access to quality health care for all Oklahomans without any cost to state taxpayers.

House Bill 1013, sponsored by Rep. Cockroft, would allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to practice to the full extent of their education and prescribe medications consistent with their training. This would give Oklahomans in rural areas and across the state more health care choices for themselves and their families. The measure would do away with the antiquated requirement that NPs pay for “collaborative agreements” with a physician, even though little or no collaboration actually occurs.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently granted full practice authority to nurse practitioners working in V.A. facilities, trusting them to do their part in caring for the heroes who have served our country.

The benefits to Oklahoma are obvious. Of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, 64 are designated as primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas, state Health Department statistics show. Our state is ranked 49th in physician-to-patient ratio. That means Oklahomans in rural areas are driving long distances and spending hours in waiting rooms for primary care services.

We can do better.

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who is prepared, through advanced education, including completion of a master’s or doctoral degree, and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventative and health care services.

In Oklahoma, nurse practitioners practice with an independent license. They can provide physical examinations, diagnose and treat acute and chronic problems, interpret laboratory results and X-rays, provide training and supportive counseling on the prevention of illness, and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.

Nurse practitioners are also educated to prescribe and manage medications, though NPs in Oklahoma must pay for a collaborative agreement with a physician to do so, even though the physician does not review patient charts or supervise care.

Nothing in HB 1013 would change nurse practitioners’ scope of practice. What the bill would do is cut through red tape that limits the number of NPs practicing in Oklahoma and places an unnecessary financial burden on the ones who do.

There is a health care crisis in rural Oklahoma, but the legislature can take action this year to bring quality health care closer to the Oklahomans who need it.

Thousands of Oklahomans already trust nurse practitioners for their primary health care needs. Lawmakers can make this option even more readily available to all residents of our state. Full practice authority means shorter drives and less wait time, greater consumer choice, less government red tape and, most of all, a healthier Oklahoma.

Please call or email your state representative today and ask them to support, or even better, to co-author HB 1013. If you’re unsure who represents you at the state Capitol, you can find out here.

 

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