House Committee Advances Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners

Empower Mississippi applauds the legislation and action from the committee

The House Public Health and Human Services Committee has advanced legislation that will grant nurse practitioners full practice authority in Mississippi. House Bill 1303, sponsored by Rep. Donnie Scoggin (R-Ellisville), now goes to the full House for a vote.

“Mississippi suffers from the worst primary care access in the nation, with a disproportionate impact on rural and disadvantaged populations,” Empower Mississippi President Russ Latino said. “Nurse practitioners are trained to dispense quality primary care, and with the help of full practice authority, can play a vital role in closing the Magnolia state’s health care chasm. We applaud the Mississippi House’s leadership in putting patients first.”

If House Bill 1303 were to be signed into law, nurse practitioners with 3,600 hours of experience would be able to dispense primary care without costly collaborative agreements that require physician audits of as little as 10 percent of their charts often weeks after treatment of a patient. Mississippi would join 22 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing full practice authority for nurse practitioners.

A few data points on the need for expanded access to care and the role nurse practitioners can play:

  • The National Institute of Health predicts that Mississippi will need an additional 3,709 doctors by 2030, a substantial increase from our current pool of 5,714 active physicians. At the same time, a full third of active physicians today are 60 or older, and likely to retire soon. And more than half of all active Mississippi physicians are clumped in four metropolitan areas, leaving vast swaths of rural population without access.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that states could reduce their physician shortages by two-thirds by easing restrictions that keep nurses from independently treating patients.
  • A Duke University study concluded that nurse practitioners provided comparable or superior primary care, better results, and equal or higher levels of patient satisfaction compared with physicians.
  • study by economists at Brandeis University found nurses charge patients 29 percent less for health evaluations and 11 percent less for in-patient care than physicians. That saves patients money. It also saves taxpayers money because lower costs mean lower expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Researchers at the University of Rochester found the number of nurse practitioners serving areas suffering from primary care shortages increased 30 percent in states providing full practice authority.
  • After Arizona enacted reforms to grant nurse practitioners full practice authority, the number of nurses serving rural communities increased by 73 percent.
  • study by the Census Bureau and the University of Hawaii estimates adults are 11 percent more likely to receive a routine physical exam in states that expanded practice authority, while the rate of emergency room visits fell by more than 21 percent.