Florida is experiencing a shortage of primary care providers. As our population grows and continues to age, this shortage is expected to accelerate, putting the health of our residents at risk. An overwhelming body of evidence shows that Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) provide safe and effective care at a reduced cost. Recognizing these benefits, 21 states allow ARNPs full practice rights, meaning that these trained healthcare professionals may assess, diagnose, interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications without physician oversight. Florida is not one of these states. In fact, Florida’s ARNP practice laws are among the most restrictive in our Nation, resulting in ARNPs choosing to practice elsewhere.
With the passage of HB /SB 423, Florida became the 50th state to allow ARNPs to prescribe controlled substances. Florida TaxWatch worked tirelessly along side ARNP groups to assure passage of this needed reform. While this law removes one restriction there are other limits placed on ARNP practice in Florida. For example, ARNPs may not approve do not resuscitate directives, involuntarily commit individuals for mental health evaluation (Baker Act), prescribe diabetic shoes, or sign death certificates; and, most importantly, they may not practice without physician oversight. Such restrictions hamper ARNPs ability to practice to their full potential, resulting in a loss of economic benefit and inefficiencies in the provision of healthcare in our state.
The Florida Action Coalition recently released a report documenting the economic and systemicimpact of the removal of all remaining ARNP practice restrictions in Florida. This report is a must read for policy makers. Briefly, this study found:
- From 2013 to 2025, the demand for healthcare is expected to increase 24.75%;
- If Florida allowed full ARNP practice rights, 1,876 additional ARNPs would join Florida’s healthcare delivery system, adding $628 million to our economy;
- Additional ARNPs drawn to the state by the removal of practice restrictions would completely eliminate the primary care provider shortage; and
- Full ARNP practice rights would result in expanded use of ARNPs, potentially saving Florida up to 9.5 billion in total healthcare costs.
These findings are consistent with dozens of other studies on this issue around the county and with Florida TaxWatch’s past independent research. As numerous TaxWatch independent research studies have shown, ARNPs provide high quality care in a cost effective manner. The Florida Action Coalition report provides further evidence of the benefit of expanding ARNP practice. With a looming shortage of primary care providers, Florida must act to ensure a viable healthcare workforce.