Five States Take Action to Expand Access to Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

AANP Urges All Governors to Waive Barriers Limiting NPs at the Front Lines

AUSTIN, TEXAS — The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP), representing the interests of America’s 290,000 nurse practitioners (NPs), welcomes actions taken by the governors of Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin to suspend state regulatory barriers that limit NPs from combating the growing COVID-19 crisis. The actions taken by these governors are a model for the nation, enabling their states to surge the number of frontline care providers, treat patients with underlying health conditions and meet vital primary care needs. AANP is calling on the remaining governors to take immediate action to waive restrictive barriers that undermine patients’ access to NP-provided care.

“We’re encouraged that the governors of Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin have taken action to fully utilize our highly-trained NP workforce to respond to this unprecedented pandemic. With the worst of the crisis yet to unfold and personal protective equipment shortages exacting a heavy toll on the health of frontline health care providers, we need the rest of the nation’s governors to lift barriers now. We cannot afford to sideline qualified NPs from providing care or hinder them from providing telehealth across state lines,” said AANP President Sophia Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP, FNAP, FAANP. “We have been hearing from frontline NPs in states with outdated regulations that it’s often easier to volunteer in other states than to serve in their own communities. In fact, some are being recruited away from the states they currently reside and practice in, to more inclusive practice environments, leaving patients at risk of little to no access to care. It’s more urgent than ever that the remaining governors act decisively to eliminate these needless barriers to care and unleash the potential of their state’s NP workforce to combat this pandemic.”

In 22 states, the District of Columbia, two U.S. territories, the Veterans Health Administration and the Indian Health Service, NPs were already permanently authorized to provide direct patient care before the pandemic. In the remaining jurisdictions, outdated regulations make it illegal for NPs to provide care unless they maintain a collaborative or supervisory contract with a physician. This requirement needlessly restricts the number of NPs who could otherwise evaluate, diagnose and treat patients, especially in times of crisis. Further, it creates unnecessary geographic access challenges and delays in care.

NPs evaluate patients; make diagnoses; order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests; and initiate and manage treatments ― including prescribing medications and non-pharmacologic treatments. Additionally, NPs coordinate care and provide counseling and education to patients, families and communities.

In 2012, the National Governors Association recommended that states consider easing these restrictions as a way to improve access to care. Waiving these requirements is a safe and reliable way to remove a significant roadblock toward ensuring states have the necessary health care workforce capacity our nation needs at this critical moment.

States should also expand emergency health care workforce declarations authorizing out-of-state health care licensees to include clinicians with retired or inactive status to resume work, provided their inactive or expired license was in good standing. Addressing our nation’s needs will require all available hands on deck. Given the nationwide scale of COVID-19 cases, states will not be able to rely on neighboring states to send health care providers to meet the demand. Authorizing recent licensees to return to the workforce offers a way to bolster our reserves and utilize the qualified clinicians already in our communities. A growing number of states are taking at least one of these actions, and AANP is urging all governors to adopt similar measures. View a map of the states’ emergency licensure COVID-19 responses.

NPs are practicing in every setting and geographic area impacted by COVID-19. Removing barriers to care across the health care system will ensure that they can bring their knowledge and skill to treat patients and help the nation fight back during this crisis.

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The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 290,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs’ patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate a nurse practitioner in your community, go to npfinder.com. For more information about NPs, visit aanp.org. For COVID-19 information from AANP, visit https://bit.ly/2UFPhgz.

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