SACRAMENTO–AB 890 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) would provide full practice authority to nurse practitioners and is headed to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed what we have known for some time – there is a serious shortage and continuing decline of primary care physicians in the state,” said Wood. “A significant percentage of physicians are over retirement age and new physicians are not keeping up with the need. Of course we can increase funding for medical residencies and loan repayment programs, and I have always supported those, but the reality is it’s not only an expensive solution but the number of slots will never be enough to meet the current and future need in California.”
Despite the misinformation distributed by those opposed to this bill, independent analyses of peer-reviewed research, as reflected in “Quality of Primary Care by Advanced Practice Nurses: A Systematic Review,” have concluded that nurse practitioners provide care of comparable quality as physicians, even when they practice without physician oversight.
“California has been successful expanding health care coverage to many more people – and that’s absolutely what we should be doing – and we are faced with not having enough providers to care for this population,” said Wood.
More than two dozen states, the District of Columbia and the Veterans Administration allow nurse practitioners to practice independently.
“Each of these states or entities have their own requirements; however, this bill has the most stringent education and experience requirements of them all,” said Wood.
In February 2019, the California Future Health Workforce Commission, of which Wood was a member, released its final report with a plan to address the state’s shortages of primary care and behavioral health providers. One of the Commission’s top 10 recommendations was to maximize the role of nurse practitioners and to expand their practice authority. There are more than 80 organizations supporting AB 890, including individual physicians.
“Working on this bill for the past 2 years has been my passion,” said Wood. “It’s been challenging, and at times, a most unpleasant experience. The level to which the opposition’s advocacy has descended has been disheartening. And that opposition has been from, no surprise, 15 organizations representing physicians and individual physicians, many of whom weighed in from outside the state providing misinformation and uncivilized personal attacks.”
“California has always been a policy leader, and the fact that we are lagging behind a majority of states is truly a detriment to our fellow Californians,” said Wood. “I look forward to California returning to lead the nation in the provision of accessible, quality health care.”
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