As a physician who provides health care to Hoosiers every day, it’s clear that our state is facing a mounting crisis of care. There simply aren’t enough physicians to meet the skyrocketing patient demand, and many of us are retiring. For years, I’ve worked with advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to provide patients with safe, high-quality care. It’s time for the state legislature to remove the legislative roadblocks that prevent patients from choosing APRNs as their health care providers.
Across our state, the physician shortage is having detrimental effects on Hoosiers’ health. Health care costs are up and health outcomes are down. We hear every day that patients are having difficulty scheduling appointments for routine care. The lack of prenatal care is driving up infant mortality rates across our state. Kids devastated by the pandemic can’t get the mental health care they need. The status quo isn’t cutting it anymore and policymakers need to make a change.
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Today’s health care workforce includes a wide variety of professionals who can help us turn the tide for our patients. Chief among them are the 9,400-plus APRNs practicing across our state. We’ve seen firsthand the quality of care APRNs provide. I have routinely served as a nurse practitioner preceptor, supervising advanced practice nursing students during their clinical training. I work with APRNs in my practice and can attest to the outstanding care they deliver. Unfortunately, our current state laws limit these providers from delivering the care they are already state licensed and nationally certified to perform.
In our state, APRNs have to sign a contract with a physician in order to practice. These contracts can be costly for nurses and health systems and have shown no real benefit to patient care. This session, House Bill (HB) 1330 has been introduced in the House, and Senate Bill (SB) 213 in the Senate, to modernize our state laws and remove the requirement for our state’s nurses to sign physician contracts. In states that have taken similar actions, the APRN workforce has quickly expanded. We encourage Indiana legislators ― including our physician colleague Rep. Brad Barrett, chair of the Public Health Committee — to bring these bills to a vote now.
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As a physician, I am proud to work side by side with my APRN colleagues to meet the health care needs of Hoosiers and to support legislation that will allow them to answer the call for care. The National Academy of Medicine also supports legislation to allow APRNs to work to the top of their scope — and cites the decades of research demonstrating the safety and quality of care they provide. In fact, 26 states, the District of Columbia, the VA health system and two U.S. territories already eliminated these outdated laws to improve access to care.
Our state can no longer afford to continue on the current path. Millions of Hoosiers lack access to vital health care services, and there is a ready-made solution before the General Assembly. I call on them to pass SB 213 and HB 1330 so that Indiana patients can access the health care they need and deserve.
Dr. Charles Tripple specializes in emergency medicine and family medicine in Indianapolis and two other locations.