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Louisiana Legislators File Bills to Improve Access to Care

Posted over 5 years ago by Rebecca Thibodaux

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Louisiana legislators filed House Bills 416 and 486 to modernize healthcare in our state.   These measures will improve access to health care by enabling health care professionals to work together to deliver much needed services to the most vulnerable populations in the state.

HB 416, sponsored by State Rep. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge), would grant Nurse Practitioners (NPs), the option to pursue full practice authority in the state of Louisiana.  This option would authorize nurse practitioners to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments—including prescribe medications—under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. These are activities they are already doing, but would remove the costly and unnecessary paperwork of the collaborative practice agreements NPs are currently required to have with physicians.  If the bill passes, the choice to remain working with physicians through a collaborative practice agreement will be up to the individual NP to decide if this approach is right for them.

Additionally, HB 416 would require an application process whereby the Louisiana State Board of Nursing would ensure NP experience and education qualifications are met and maintained.

Currently, state statute and regulations require Louisiana nurse practitioners to secure a physician to have a written agreement to provide many elements of care. These requirements are quickly diminishing across the country as 20 states and the District of Columbia have voted in favor of allowing NPs to practice to the fullest extent of their education by granting full practice authority.

The second bill, HB 486, sponsored by State Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Avoyelles), prevents the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners from placing any additional restrictions on the collaborative practice agreements between nurse practitioners and physicians.   The bill preserves current statute that was established in joint efforts between nursing and physician stakeholders.

These recently filed bills, seek to:

  • Provide for greater access to essential health care services in all areas of the state, especially those designated rural and underserved regions
  • Improve the primary care provider workforce shortage by eliminating unnecessary restrictions requiring physician involvement before an NP can provide patient care
  • Avoid duplication of services and billing costs associated with physician involvement
  • Avoid rules and regulations written by the LSBME that effect the collaborative practice agreement without legislative approval

Louisiana rankings reveal that Louisiana is the 49th healthiest state in the nation.  Louisiana is 6th in the nation of citizens lacking access to primary care.  1,464,387 Louisianans are primary care underserved and 86% of parishes in Louisiana are classified as health professional shortage areas.