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Florida Panhandle Nurse Practitioner Coalition

ARNPS can reduce state ER visits and associated costs

Posted almost 9 years ago by Stanley F Whittaker

Everyday it is estimated that hundreds of uninsured and Medicaid/Medicare patients must go to emergency rooms to get medications for cancer pain, anxiety, attention deficit disorder medication refills, cough medication with codeine, diarrhea medication, and pain medicine. Why? Because these patients are cared for by Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners who are prohibited by an outdated state law from prescribing these medications.

If, however Florida joined forty-eight other states in our nation and allowed Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners to prescribe these medications, patients could get these same medications in the less costly clinic setting and save untold dollars for the state budget and lowering indigent care cost to hospitals.

Currently, Senate Bill 188 and HB 677 is sitting in the Committees on Health Regulation this legislation would lift this barrier for Floridians who need to receive that care, especially Floridians who live in rural under served areas of our state. This bill would bring Florida up to national standards and join the forty-eight states that allow Advanced Practice Nurses to prescribe controlled substances to their patients.

In 2008, the Florida Senate conducted a study on this issue and concluded that, like forty-eight other states, Florida should change this outdated law and grant the authority to prescribe controlled substances to ARNPs. Here is a link to that report:

Click Here

But, because of medical politics, the Senate Committee on Health Regulation refuses to heed their own advice. As a result of this refusal to follow the recommendations of their own study, Florida's citizens continue to be harmed and suffer needlessly. And the state, in the midst of a financial crisis, continues to pay for unnecessary emergency room visits.

As the Senate interim report points out, many rural areas do not have adequate number of physician providers. People living in these areas must find or drive long hours to reach a physician to get certain types of care that can be provided and prescribed by the ARNPs who already live and work there, if legislative barriers were removed.

The cost of providing this health care in emergency rooms to the uninsured and underserved population is ultimately borne by all Floridians through higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes, and patients who get sicker, loose work and may even wind up in the ICU.

Forty-eight states allow ARNPs to provide these services to their citizens. These other states are realizing tremendous savings and increased access to care for their citizens. It is time for the Florida Legislature to bring health care in this state up to national standards, increase access without increasing costs, and to stop playing politics with people’s health.



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