Nurse practitioners say efforts to expand primary care to millions of Americans under the health law are hampered by insurance industry practices that limit or exclude their participation.
Despite laws in 17 states and the District of Columbia allowing them to practice independently, nurses with advanced degrees say some insurers still don’t accept them into their credentialed networks as primary care providers, while others restrict them mainly to rural areas.
Millions of newly insured consumers will need access to primary care, but "this will not happen if private insurers continue to exclude or restrict advanced practice registered nurses from their provider networks," said Karen Daley, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), in a prepared statement.
Nurse advocates want to be able to bill insurers directly for services, which would require them to be credentialed in insurers’ networks. But insurers say a mix of state laws governing nurses’ ability to practice independently complicates such efforts. They say they have taken other steps to expand primary care services, often using nurse practitioners in "medical homes," where doctors, nurses and other...