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Speaker explores nurse practitioners’ role in health reform

Apr. 30, 2015, 8:41 AM

Patients should have full and direct access to the health provider of their choice, according to Cindy Cooke, DNP, president-elect of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), who recently spoke to faculty, students and members of the community at Vanderbilt University School Nursing (VUSN).

Cooke practices at an Army health clinic in Huntsville, Alabama, and was invited to speak by the VUSN Military/Veterans Student Group.

Cindy Cooke, DNP, spoke at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing on issues facing nurse practitioners. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“The role of nurse practitioner started 50 years ago to provide primary care as more people sought care under the then-new Medicare and Medicaid programs,” Cooke said. “The same thing is happening today with health care reform as nurse practitioners are providing high quality, cost effective care, and that’s one reason that nurse practitioner is a rapidly growing job opportunity in the country.”

Cook said that a patients have a right to see the type of provider they choose. However, patient choice is often hampered because nurse practitioners do not have full practice authority to include prescription-writing privileges in all 50 states. In fact, just 20 states and the District of Columbia allow nurse practitioners to have full practice authority.

The AANP is rallying its base of more than 58,000 members to contact legislators on a state-by-state basis, including in Tennessee, for change. Cooke sees these practice limitations as barriers to accessible care, especially in rural areas where there are often limited health care providers.

On the federal level, the AANP’s top agenda item for the next 18 months is focused on Medicare and the SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate) fix. Specifically, the group is promoting the authority for advanced practice nurses to be able to order home health care for patients covered by Medicare and be able to order appropriate durable medical equipment.

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