Eighty-eight percent of Americans support a new proposed rule from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allowing nurse practitioners to practice at the top of their licenses in an effort to expand patient access to care.
According to a press release, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners conducted a survey of 1,000 individuals, finding widespread support for the VA’s proposal. In addition, 91 percent of respondents with family members treated in VA facilities support the proposal.
Support for the proposal crosses party lines. Ninety-one percent of those who identify as Republican support the proposal, while 90 percent of Democrats do the same.
According to AANP leaders, this is because the public considers nurse practitioners a part of the fabric of the healthcare system, and see their work as integral in delivering high quality healthcare. Their support for this proposal reflects their support for veterans.
"NPs are the primary care providers of choice for millions of Americans and it's time we allow our veterans the same level of access to timely high-quality health care," said Dr. Cindy Cooke, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, president of AANP.
"Americans recognize NPs' 50-year track record of providing care for our patients, including our nation's veterans, makes nurse practitioners a zero risk, zero cost, zero delay solution for timely, high-quality care in the VA system," she continued. "This rule must be swiftly enacted for the immediate benefit of our veterans."
Representatives from the military agreed with Cooke’s sentiments.
"Veterans rely on VA health care to take care of them and the VA's nurse practitioners are qualified to provide our veterans with the care they need and deserve," said Major General Vincent Boles, a retired member of the U.S. Army.
This proposal has not received support from everyone, however. Quickly following VA’s proposal, the American Medical Association released a statement saying that allowing nurse practitioners to practice at the top of their licenses will dilute the quality of care veterans receive.
“While the AMA supports the VA in addressing the challenges that exist within the VA health system, we believe that providing physician-led, patient-centered, team-based patient care is the best approach to improving quality care for our country's veterans,” says AMA board chair Stephen R. Permut, MD, JD. “We feel this proposal will significantly undermine the delivery of care within the VA.”
Other industry groups have also stepped up to the plate and commented on this proposal. While organizations like the AMA have spoken out against the proposal, others, like the American Nurses Association, have advocated for the expansion of nurses’ authorization at the VA.
“ANA applauds the VA for taking this important step to standardize the practice of APRNs in the VA system and allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of education, training and certification,” the group wrote in a comments letter.
“It is an important step in ensuring that our nation’s veterans receive the high quality healthcare that they have earned, and it is long overdue.”
The ANA also acknowledged some of the pushback from the AMA, including their sentiments that the rule is unprecedented and that it could potentially slow down efforts to advance team-based care.
According to the ANA, nurse practitioners have a long history of leading the charge in innovating healthcare, and this rule would only continue that path.
With regard to team-based care, ANA argued that team-based care does not always need to be physician-led. Allowing nurse practitioners to practice at the top of their licenses would allow physicians to assume the roles for which they were trained and remove some of their burden, the group said.
Thus far, the VA’s proposal has received nearly 80,000 comment letters showing both support to dissent to their rule. As the rule’s 60-day comment period begins to wane, the VA will need to acknowledge the comments and move forward with – or rescind – their proposal.