Nov. 6—Strong majorities of the public support expanded healthcare roles for nurse practitioners, according to a new poll. And public support could strengthen the drive to change state and federal rules limiting the providers’ scope of practice.

An expanded Medicare role for nurse practitioners (NPs) was backed by two-thirds of respondents to a Mellman Group national survey released this week. Specifically, 85 percent of respondents supported changes to allow NPs to oversee home health and long-term care under Medicare.  Similarly, 70 percent favored legislation to allow them to choose NPs as their primary care providers.

 “These results clearly confirm what we have known anecdotally for years: American healthcare consumers trust NPs and want greater access to the safe, effective services they provide,” Ken Miller, copresident of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), said in announcing the results on Nov. 5. “This is no surprise given that NP patients have healthcare outcomes that are consistent with those of physicians, and that patients consistently and increasingly prefer NPs as their primary care providers.”

The poll results came as AANP planned a push for Medicare rule changes allowing greater role for NPs, Miller said. For instance, the association is pushing legislation that would allow NPs and other providers to certify home health services under Medicare.

The association also is planning a legislative push to head off a new Medicare provision to require a physician role when NPs determine beneficiary required durable medical equipment. The Affordable Care Act required the physician oversight as an antifraud measure but rules implementing have been delayed twice, Miller said.

Other results from the new poll included the support of 62 percent of respondents for state law changes that would allow NPs to prescribe medications and order diagnostic tests without physician supervision.

The poll findings reflect AANP’s ongoing push in several state capitals for legislation to expand NPs’ scope of practice, including allowing them to prescribe medications. The organization aims to expand the number  of states beyond the one-third where NPs are allowed to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and manage treatments, including prescribing medications.

The nationally representative telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted in September for AANP.

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 06, 2013