New York will pass legislation this week as part of the state budget to expand the authority of nurse practitioners (NPs) to practice independently, Syracuse.com reports.
The Nurse Practitioners Modernization Act, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, eliminates the requirement that NPs have a written practice agreement with a doctor in order to practice independently. New York will be the eighteenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to implement such a measure, according to the article.
The bill overcame fierce opposition from Empire State physician groups, who warned NPs' lower experience levels posed a safety hazard and argued eliminating the written agreement would discourage team-based care even as healthcare models trend in that direction. However, research suggests NPs' quality of care is no worse than doctors', according to the article, and NPs say increased authority could help cover the gaps created by the doctor shortage.
"The new law is a result of enormous efforts by the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly, as well as the NPA [Nurse Practitioner Association] leadership and volunteers," said Denis Tarrant, president of the Nurse Practitioner Association New York State, in a statement. "The cooperation among the Legislature, Executive, and the NPA led to the enactment of legislation that truly enhances the nurse practitioner profession in New York State and will ensure that New Yorkers will have access to high quality healthcare." The NPA statement praised the legislature for eliminating the "arcane requirement" for a written agreement.
New York is not the only state debating greater freedom for nurses. New Jersey doctors and advanced practice nurses (APNs) are at odds over a bill that would give APNs the authority to issue death certificates, while Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's (D) administration has proposed similar legislation to expand NPs' authority, FierceHealthcare previously reported.