Lawmaker: Freeing nurse practitioners of work constraints will help health care across state; FTC also on board

By Carrie Salls | Jan 16, 2018

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Jesse Topper (R-78) believes a bill he introduced that would allow nurse practitioners to bring their services to more “underserved areas” in Pennsylvania is “the right thing for the people of Pennsylvania, the right thing for health care across the state.”

Topper told the Pennsylvania Record that, through House Bill 100, “we’re trying to give nurse practitioners the ability to practice more independently” without collaborative agreements that he says “hinder the work of health care professionals.”

“In underserved areas, period, we’re having a shortage of family physicians and nurse practitioners have really been taking over that role,” Topper said. “We think there’s more work that they’d be able to do, were they allowed to practice more independently.”

In addition, Topper stressed that the bill’s sponsors are not asking the nurse practitioners to do anything they aren’t trained and educated to do. 

“We’re not asking them to be doctors,” he said.

According to a Jan. 3 letter to Topper from the Federal Trade Commission, “You state HB 100 would eliminate the current requirement that advanced practice registered nurse-certified nurse practitioners have written collaborative agreements with physicians after the APRN-CNP has completed three years of practice under physician collaboration.”

Topper said this legislation has been successful in other states.

“Every study that has been done in 21 other states that adopted this legislation…has shown that patient safety, patient care has actually improved across the state,” he said.

The Senate version of the bill has already passed, according to Topper. The bill is now before the House Professional Licensure Committee. Topper said he hopes to see the bill moved out of that committee this year.

“I’ve given up the prognosticating business when it comes to the state legislature so I can’t give you an exact percentage, (but I’m going to) do my best to get it done this year,” Topper said.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society has expressed opposition, while several other groups - such as the Hospital Association, the Commonwealth Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and the AARP - support the legislation.

“(But) the doctors have some concerns,” Topper said. “I believe we’ve done what we can to alleviate a lot of those concerns. I think, in the end, it’s a little bit of a turf war, and sometimes those are difficult to get past.”

In a Jan. 4 statement, the FTC said its staff “(encourages) the Pennsylvania legislature to pass the legislation, which will spur competition to benefit consumers, and also promote economic opportunity for nurse practitioners.”

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Federal Trade Commission Rep. Jesse Topper (R-78) The Pennsylvania Legislature

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