Federal Trade Commission staff, in response to a request from Kentucky State Senator Paul Hornback, stated that a bill proposed in the Kentucky legislature could benefit consumers by making it simpler for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to prescribe certain drugs.
Kentucky Senate Bill 187 would remove a requirement that APRNs must have a signed agreement with a physician in order to prescribe nonscheduled drugs, which include antibiotics, diabetes medications, and blood pressure medications.
"It is our understanding that neither the law, nor general practice in Kentucky, involves collaboration agreements that require chart review, onsite presence by a physician, or any other form of physician supervision or monitoring," the FTC staff comment stated. "According to the Kentucky Board of Nursing, for the more than fifteen years APRNs have had prescriptive authority, not a single APRN in Kentucky has ever been reported to the Board of Nursing for poor or inappropriate prescribing of nonscheduled drugs."
The comment is part of the FTC's ongoing efforts to promote competition in the health care sector, which benefits consumers through lower costs, better care and more innovation.
"Removing this requirement [of a physician agreement] has the potential to benefit consumers by expanding choices for patients, containing costs, and improving access," the FTC staff comment stated, noting that current shortages of primary care providers in Kentucky are expected to worsen as more Kentuckians gain health insurance and seek access to primary health care services. "The Bill's elimination of this requirement may improve access and consumer choice for primary care services, especially for rural and other underserved populations, and may also encourage beneficial price competition that can help contain health care costs." Thus, the FTC staff recommended that, given the potential benefits, "the Kentucky legislature seek to ensure that statutory limits on APRNs are no stricter than patient protection requires."
The Commission vote approving the staff comment was 4-0. It was sent to Kentucky State Senator Paul Hornback on March 26, 2012. A copy of the letter can be found on the FTC's website and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No.V120004; the staff contact is Patricia Schultheiss, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2877)
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