Trained nurses can help ease Florida’s health care shortage, if the Legislature will let them
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Trained nurses can help ease Florida’s health care shortage, if the Legislature will let them

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By Cecil Pearce

With its rapid growth, Florida faces a serious shortage of skilled health care providers who can deliver quality care to patients. So why is it preventing some of those highly trained individuals from doing more to help those in need?

Florida is home to over 32,000 highly qualified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), who provide quality health care services to patients throughout the state. But despite their training and expertise, they can only practice under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. This is despite the fact that research shows they produce quality results comparable to a supervising physician.

The Florida Insurance Council is committed to promoting and protecting the viability of Florida’s insurance market. Allowing APRNs to provide primary care services can lower costs and making health care more affordable for consumers.

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Access to health care is a real issue facing rural and low income areas. Right now, only 2% of Florida’s licensed physicians serve patients in the state’s 30 rural counties. If Florida joins those other states, medically underserved populations will have access not only to needed medical services, but also to patient education, supportive care, long-term health plans, and more.

This is a mainstream idea. 30 other states and the District of Columbia have already acted to remove restrictions on APRNs. APRNs who provide health care services for the Veterans Health Administration, Indian Health Services, and the United States military are already exempted from state-mandated restrictions. Clearly these individuals have proven that APRN’s deliver high-quality health care. Today, many APRNs already provide quality health care for many – it’s time to let consumers access that same care at a lower cost.

APRNs would benefit the industry and those it serves by lowering patient costs and increasing access to safe, quality care – which will result in overall better health care outcomes for everyone. This transition has been long needed, and APRNs should be allowed to use their education and training to better serve Florida’s patients.

Cecil Pearce is President Florida Insurance Council

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