Policy Perspectives: Competition and the Regulation of Advanced Practice Nurses

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FTC staff has issued a policy paper suggesting that state legislators should be cautious when evaluating proposals to limit the scope of practice of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). By limiting the range of services APRNs may provide and the extent to which they can practice independently, such proposals may reduce competition that benefits consumers, the paper states. The policy paper notes the potential benefits of improved competition in the provision of primary health care services. Staff cites research suggesting that APRNs provide safe and effective care within the scope of their training, certification, and licensure. In addition, health policy experts have warned of significant shortages of primary care practitioners across the United States, and they have suggested that APRNs might help to alleviate health care access problems if undue regulatory burdens were reduced. Moreover, effective collaboration among health care providers, including team-based care, does not always require physician supervision of APRNs.