FMA to TaxWatch: Nurse Practitioner report needs recall

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Florida TaxWatch is facing the wrath of the Florida Medical Association over a recent report on the nurse practitioner debate, which concluded that taxpayers could save up to $339 million by allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to provide care to the extent of their training.

The FMA released a statement today saying the “self-described independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit” group released Diagnosing the Debate: Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice with five critical flaws in the dispute over allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently.

“This report, which is based largely on a government memorandum that is now four years old, is so fundamentally flawed and misleading, it requires immediate correction,” said FMA General Counsel Jeff Scott.

Scott added the report was “based on numerous assumptions that are demonstrably and irrefutably false,” and called on TaxWatch to reissue the document with corrections.

The flaws made by TaxWatch, according to the FMA:

The report misleadingly reported only the upper limit – and not the full range of values – from an “already flawed” Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability communication.

TaxWatch falsely assumes that non-physicians would perform 100 percent of primary care in Florida. OPPAGA’s analysis makes clear that the $339 million figure would require nurses to take over 100 percent of primary care. “This is absurd and should be stricken from the report,” the statement says.

The report assumes that 100 percent of ARNPs would practice independently and incorrectly assumes that ARNPs and PAs will continue to “cost less” than physicians in perpetuity.

For much of the nation, FMA says, there is no price differential between physicians and nurses. About 50 percent of Medicaid programs pay nurses the same rate as they do for physicians, which the report  assumes that where there ARE costs differences, they will last forever.

The report also assumes that all Floridians would willingly give up seeing a doctor and 100 percent would see a nurse instead.

In a December 2013 survey sponsored by the FMA, 72 percent of Americans prefer physicians to non-physicians for care; and 90 percent would choose a doctor to conduct the “ideal medical team” when given a choice.

“The TaxWatch report is intellectually dishonest, and the FMA will not stand by and allow this organization to recommend public policy to the Florida Legislature that is based in fantasyland,” Scott concluded. “We call on TaxWatch to recall its report, analyze the facts instead of conjecture, and reissue a report that policymakers can actually use.” 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.