HB 543 Regulation of Health Care Practitioners
To, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart,
8669 NW 36th Street, Suite 100,
Doral, FL 33166.
Re: HB 543 Regulation of Health Care Practitioners.
Thank you a lot for the continued support of the people of Florida in addressing the issues about human rights - we appreciate your service. I am at this moment in the same line of thought praying for your audience on some of the challenges we, the Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), have been experiencing due to the continued presence of barriers to full practice. The state has been experiencing this tendency about all nursing practice-based bills, and it is also evident in HB 543 Regulation of Health Care practice, where despite the bill revolutionizing the way practice protocols will be handled by APRNs, there is still the agitation of supervision of APRNs by physicians.
The bill, which came into effect in June 2017, was a big win for the APRNs across the state since it meant that nurses would not have to register their practice protocols with the Board of Nursing. The new requirement is for the nurses to keep the same details within their facilities of practice, which gives them an increased autonomy in their practice (Florida Board of Nursing, 2017). This is the direction that the state and the nation at large need to go where APRNs are given the right autonomy in their practice to ensure that they concentrate on treating patients rather than meeting unnecessary protocols that have been removed in many states and no health challenges have faced the same states.
As a human rights activist, you realize the importance and value of health for people, and the presence of barriers to full practice authority by APRNs is affecting this basic right of the Floridians. According to FLANP (2017), in the coming ten years, 48% of physicians will be retiring, and this implies that Florida will need 3000-5000 primary caregivers (FLANP, 2017). This huge shortage of caregivers is already evident in the state, and as a result, it has jeopardized the ability of your electorates - just like other Floridians - to access quality primary care in good time. For example, as of 2016, Florida had a shortage of 1150 physicians: a problem that is projected to 3500 physicians by 2025 and ultimately 4600 physicians by 2030 (FLANP, 2017). This shortage continues to affect the lives of the Floridians both economically and socially.
However, this situation needs not be present since it has largely been brought by the state safeguarding barriers that are largely unwarranted. APRNs are well-qualified primary caregivers, and they can offer primary care just like physicians (Wallace, 2017). Moreover, sir, by you being the member of the Committee on Appropriations in the House of Representatives, the supervision demands of APRNs by the physician under this bill will mean that Floridians will continue to be denied access to proper care, but also the state will continue suffering from huge medical costs. I am sure that this topic is of interest to you too due to your continued input in the Committee on Appropriations on how both the federal and state governments can reduce their cost burden. The primary care offered by physicians or doctors is much more expensive compared to the equivalent one that can be offered by APRNs (Buerhaus, 2016). This is another example of why there is the need to do eliminate barriers to full practice within the State of Florida.
The continued presence of barriers to full practice as demonstrated by HB 543 Regulation of Health Care Practitioners bill is consistent with The Florida Nurse Practice Act, Chapter 464, where APRNs are not perceived as credible providers of primary level care. The result of this discrimination is that APRNs are not considered for reimbursement under Medicaid or Medicare, not to mention the regular private insurance companies. This lack of recognition as a source of primary care has also negatively influenced the ability of patients in the rural areas, who are on either medical cover scheme, to access the services of both the physicians and doctors due to their shortages.
Congressman Diaz-Balart, due to your closeness to your electorate, you can verify the outcomes huge shortage of physicians and doctors has had to your electorate, just like the other Floridians. However, the good news is that Florida has a large pool of nurses, who can fill the gap and ensure that the state's health sector has a better reach even to those living in rural areas. Studies have demonstrated that APRNs are as qualified as physicians when it comes to caring, including in an acute care setting such as when handling cases of heart failure (Thew, 2016). Your connection with both state and federal leadership allows you to make the goals at hand a reality. Therefore, with your support, there is a possibility to enable Floridians to access better care due to the increased number of caregivers availed by an environment, where qualified and registered nurses are allowed to offer care to the patients based on total expertise acquired at nursing schools.
It is, therefore, my hope that you will offer guidance on how an amendment to HB 543 Regulation of Health Care Practitioners of 2017 can be enacted to allow APRNs to practice based on their knowledge. This amendment is fully supported by APRNs practicing in Florida. Moreover, through your support, the nursing field will gain a lot through an increased autonomy in their practice, where they will be able to concentrate on offering care to patients rather than following the physician's demands that take most of their time. Moreover, your guidance towards this eventuality will be of help to the Floridians since a full authority practice will mean better affordable and accessible care in any setting whether urban or not. Besides, in line with the Republican Party goal of job creation, allowing nurses to apply full practice authority will create 4,500-10,300 job opportunities leading to the creation of $238-$547 million in terms of generated wages and relevant benefits (FLANP, 2016). It is, therefore, evident that the removal of these barriers will give a huge boost to the Floridian's health and economic sector leading to the improved social welfare of the public.
Improving the accessibility of the health services, especially primary level care that will come as a result of the nurses being allowed an increased scope of practice, will also lead to an improved intervention to the diseases at their primary stage. Such initiative will in turn help to reduce the medical cost within the Florida state - an eventuality that will be to the benefit of all. This assertion was captured by the Research Memorandum in 2010, where the findings indicated that if Florida was to allow APRNs to practice full based on their knowledge, the state will be in a position to save hundreds of millions annually (FLANP, 2017). In this regard, we need to get your support on this journey towards total removal of barriers to full practice by nurses.
It is, therefore, my humble appeal that you grant me a personal session, where I will be able to offer more details on any subject or question you might have. The improved scope of practice by APRNs will lead to better care among Floridians, which is very close to your goals of agitating for improved welfare within the state. Your guidance and support will be highly appreciated.