Nurse Practitioners: The Key to Accessible and Cost-Effective Primary Health Care

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Angela Golden, president elect of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, issued the following statement concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the role of nurse practitioners in the American health care system:

"As we look to the future and the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and a possible influx of 50 million more Americans into the roles of the insured, nurse practitioners (NPs) will be needed, even more to meet the needs of our citizens. In an already overburdened system, full use of NPs to the top of their education and skill will help fill the shortage of primary care providers.

"Nurse practitioners provide high-quality primary health care to patients throughout the country evaluating, diagnosing and treating patients, including writing prescriptions.

"Currently 16 states and the District of Columbia have regulations that use NPs to their fullest potential without physician involvement. Several more states are looking to pass laws that update their regulations to give patients improved access to care. Still other localities place artificial and outdated barriers on an NP's practice. These must be removed to allow NPs to participate as equal partners in health care.

"The high quality and cost effectiveness of the nation's almost 150,000 NPs have been well documented for more than four decades. It is important that NPs be a central component of the health care system as it moves forward into the future.

"Many favorable components of the PPACA have already been implemented, including increasing insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, removal of lifetime coverage caps, extension of age for which children may remain on their parents' insurance plan, closure of Medicare coverage gaps, and the continuing right to a patient's provider of choice.

"Regardless of the outcome of this milestone Supreme Court case, AANP supports measures – in Washington and in all 50 states – that allow access to affordable, quality health care from a provider of choice for all Americans."

For more information visit aanp.org. To locate an NP in your community, go to npfinder.org.