TaxWatch’s nurse practitioners summit foreshadows upcoming legislative fight

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Florida TaxWatch hosted its first ever ARNP Scope of Practice Summit, seemingly designed to justify its existing position that nurse practitioners should be permitted to do more with less (i.e. no) physician supervision — and that this would promote the better, cheaper delivery of health care. 

Previous TaxWatch reports have suggested that programs such as Medicaid would save money by expanding ARNP scope of practice, however data for these reports were provided mostly by Florida Blue, hardly an impartial player on any health care issue.  

Speakers and panelists laid out a multifaceted attack on Florida’s existing practice act, although the gist can be summarized as this: “Everybody loves nurses and our nation’s health care system is upside down, therefore, let nurses do more… oh, and aren’t doctors paid too much? Why aren’t nurses considered equals when it comes to patient care? God forbid a physician oversee a team of nurses…”

Although good public policy shouldn’t be based solely on how kind, loved and plentiful certain professionals may be, it seems that this go around the nurses have some bigger guns on their side.   

The Summit featured speakers and panelists representing Associated Industries of Florida (Tom Feeney), Florida Blue (David Pizzi), Baptist Health South Florida (Phillis Oeters),  and Walgreens (Sandra Ryan)… all of whom expressed support and motivation for expanding nurses’ scope.   Notably absent from the panel was the Florida Medical Association, though it is unclear whether this was by design or decline.   

Nevertheless, with nurse advocates unfettered by contrary data or perspective,  any resulting reports are likely to highlight claims such as, “no study has ever found that nurse practitioner care isn’t safe”, or “nurse prescribing doesn’t lead to medication diversion”, or “a physician-led team approach tethers nurses and thwarts innovation.”  

It will be up to organized medicine to demonstrate otherwise. 

So, if nursing scope legislation makes its way to the committee floor this Session, expect a different, more animated — and much more “fiscal” — sh*tshow than in years past. 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.