Federal Trade Commission staff, in response to a request from Louisiana State Representatives Thomas P. Willmott and Patrick C. Williams, stated that a bill proposed in the Louisiana legislature could benefit consumers by making it simpler for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to serve Louisiana health care consumers.
Louisiana House Bill 951 would remove a requirement that certain APRNs who practice in medically underserved areas or treat medically underserved populations have written "collaborative practice" agreements with physicians before they can offer health care services within the APRNs' scope of practice. According to the FTC staff letter, those agreements may be costly or difficult to establish in some areas.
The FTC staff letter noted federal and state reports of shortages of primary care providers in Louisiana, and a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report pointing out that excessive regulatory restrictions impede APRNs' ability to help alleviate shortages. The staff letter stated that removing undue restrictions on APRNs "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 could help contain health care costs." The FTC staff asked the legislature to carefully consider expert findings on APRN safety – such as those of the IOM – and its own experience, to determine whether such formal agreements are necessary to assure patient safety.
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.
The Commission vote approving the staff comment was 5-0. It was sent to Louisiana State Representatives Willmott and Williams on April 20, 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.V120006; the staff contact is Daniel J. Gilman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3136)
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