Nurse practitioner debate flares in Florida House

A House select committee Monday began working on a 155-page bill that would give new powers to nurse practitioners and has spurred a lobbying battle in the health-care industry.

The bill (PCB SCHCWI 14-01), which has the backing of some key House Republican leaders, would allow “advanced registered nurse practitioners” to provide care without the supervision of physicians. That includes prescribing controlled substances and being able to do such things as admit patients to hospitals. Rep. Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican and physician, said the bill would help provide better access to care, particularly in rural and other areas that have shortages of physicians.

“In my rural area, we don’t have enough of anybody (providing medical services),” Pigman said.

The changes have long been sought by groups such as the Florida Nurses Association and organizations representing nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists. Also, those groups have picked up support from organizations such as the Florida Health Care Association and Associated Industries of Florida.

But a wide range of physician groups, including the influential Florida Medical Association, are fighting the changes. They argue, in part, that nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists don’t have as much training as physicians.

At one point during the meeting Monday of the Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation, Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, questioned why people would want to go to medical school — other than to become surgeons — if nurse practitioners were given broad authority to provide care independently. Nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists counter that they already provide many of the services and are seeking to practice to the full extent of their training.

–source: The News Source of Florida