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Doctors testify against letting NPs practice independently

Physician groups turned out this week to oppose a bill that would let nurse practitioners practice and prescribe independently.

Advance practice nurses such as nurse practitioners now have to have a formal agreement with a physician in order to provide care in Ohio.

House Bill 177 , introduced by Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mt. Lookout, calls for Ohio to join 28 other states that Brinkman said have safely removed the need for such contracts, including neighboring Kentucky and West Virginia.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ohio nurse practitioners push to practice independently

Advance practice nurses say they could expand Ohioans’ access to health care, but they are limited because they have to maintain supervision agreements with physicians. At a hearing on April 30, advance practice nurses, as well as Americans For Prosperity, AARP and Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging were among those that spoke in favor of the change.

But physician groups say these supervision agreements aren’t just red tape, but are necessary rules to protect patient safety, since NPs have less education than physicians.

Representatives from Ohio State Medical Association, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians,, Ohio American College of Emergency Physicians, Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio all testified against the bill at a May 14 hearing.

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Dr. Anna McMaster, president-elect of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, said the bill would “fragment” health care.

“The skills, knowledge and abilities of APRNs and physicians are not equivalent, but they are complementary,” McMaster said in submitted testimony. “The most effective way to maximize the talents and skill sets of both professionals is to work together as a team to care for patients in a physician-led, team-based approach.”

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