ARNPs can make a difference in health costs.

Florida has a shortage of primary care physicians. Three million Floridians have inadequate access to basic health care. Twenty-one percent of Floridians are uninsured, and eight million Floridians are medically disenfranchised. Millions of Floridians need access to quality care. Medical schools simply cannot produce enough primary care physicians to provide the care needs of our state.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) can meet the needs of our medically underserved and disenfranchised Floridians, and expand the health care delivery capability of the state without added costs. In Florida, there are 14,000 APRNs in the state and they are titled Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs).

ARNPs are registered nurses who have Masters and Doctoral degrees and have passed   registered nurse exams and national specialty advanced practice certification examinations. Depending on their specialty certification they administer and manage anesthesia, manage pregnancies and deliver babies, provide and direct inpatient acute care, manage psychiatric care and provide primary health care.

Numerous studies show that ARNPs deliver high quality cost effective care equal to that of physicians.

Unlike most states, Florida law has several significant barriers which prevent full utilization of ARNPs. As a result, ARNPs cannot practice to the full extent of their education, training and experience, and Floridians cannot receive the full benefit, in terms of more timely access to health care and lower cost, and improved quality of care.

These restrictions place heavy burdens on certain populations of patients, especially those who receive Medicaid, Medicare, live in rural areas, or are uninsured. They force citizens to travel far distances to locate a physician or go to an emergency room for care when a locally available APRN could easily provide that care. Often resulting in a doubling or tripling in the cost of care.

Removing the restrictions that prevent APRNs from practicing to their full extent requires no additional dollars be added to our state budget and will have immediate impact on decreasing emergency room visits and increasing access to healthcare.

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