CVS – Delaware Latest To Lift Hurdle To Nurse Practitioners During Pandemic
Delaware is the latest in a growing number of states giving direct access to nurse practitioners thanks to legislation eliminating hurdles for patients who need primary care, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, signed into law Wednesday legislation that allows nurse practitioners to practice independently, no longer requiring supervision by a physician. There are now 24 states plus the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories that have awarded full practice authority to NPs.
“Delaware is the second state this year to enact (full practice authority) legislation and enlist NPs as key partners in addressing unprecedented health needs and persistent disparities in health care access and outcomes,” said April Kapu, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Earlier this year, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed into law legislation that allows nurse practitioners to practice independently.
As retail clinics like those run by Walmart and CVS Health’s MinuteClinic business have proliferated, patients have become more familiar with nurse practitioners as an option to a busy doctor’s office and quick access to treat routine maladies.
But state lawmakers and health policy makers are finding nurse practitioners needed to increase access to primary care and vaccinations amid a shortage of doctors and other healthcare workers, particularly during the pandemic and surges of Covid-19 cases. Nurse practitioners have been key to administering vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to inoculate Americans against Covid-19 and states have increasingly expanded the ability of NPs, pharmacists and pharmacy techs to administer vaccines in recent years.
Nurse practitioners are educated to perform myriad primary care functions, diagnose, prescribe medications and conduct physical exams, but state scope-of-practice laws often prevent them from such care unless they have an agreement with an overseeing physician.
“States with (full practice authority) demonstrate a proven track record for increasing accessibility and patient satisfaction, while maintaining excellent care quality and outcomes,” Kapu said. “We are encouraged to see other states looking to modernize their laws, eliminate health care disparities and increase health care access and choice for patients by fully engaging the NP workforce.”
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