Senate bill would reimburse doctors and nurse practitioners at the same rate

In an attempt to help the state retain and attract more healthcare workers during the current hospital crisis, a new Washington State Senate bill would require insurance companies to reimburse nurse practitioners authorized advances at the same rate as physicians.

Senate Bill 5704, sponsored by 16 Senate Democrats, states in its opening paragraph that it was written in response to the COVID-19 healthcare worker shortage.

“Given the severity of the COVID-19 crisis and the threat of future pandemics facing the people of Washington, the Legislature recognizes the importance of supporting health care professionals across the state,” says the law Project. “This law is intended to help maintain a sufficient number of health care providers, especially in underserved and rural communities.”

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More than 400 members of the public registered their support for the bill at a hearing this week, with several advanced nurse practitioners sharing their experience in public comments.

Louise Kaplan, ARNP and legislative president of ARNPs United of Washington, said that until recent years, insurance companies tended to pay ARNPs and doctors the same amount of money; this bill, she said, would make up for those recent cuts.

“Fair reimbursement for ARNP will help clinics pay for the cost of providing patient care — it doesn’t go directly to ARNP,” Kaplan said.

Another ARNP, Maddy Wiley, pointed out that nurse practitioners perform many of the same tasks as doctors, such as performing tests, prescribing medications or treatments, and referring patients.

“We provide the same primary care as a family doctor, with the same costs for staff, rent, medical supplies and utilities,” she said.

Wiley, who co-owns a clinic in Kent, added that the pandemic has made it more difficult to keep doors open, as “COVID-19 has increased the costs of medical supplies and our office visits have decreased”.

However, not all comments were in favor of the bill. There was a feverish debate from doctors, with more than 200 people signing against the bill at the hearing.

Dr. Katina Rue, who runs a family care practice in Yakima and is president-elect of the Washington State Medical Association, said that while she has the utmost respect and appreciation for her ARNP colleagues, he There’s a much bigger experience gap between the two professions than people realise.

“The bill ignores fundamental differences in the education, training, and patient panels that our physicians and ARNP colleagues run,” she said.

She added that the higher reimbursement recognizes the extra years of education that doctors take, pointing out that she is still reimbursing her medical degree 17 years after graduation.

Dr. Ashlin Mountjoy, who practices in Everett and Seattle, said the bill would only make health care more expensive for patients. She also argued that if the goal is to facilitate access in rural areas, this would not do, as ARNPs tend to work in more urban areas.

“The global pay parity strategy is a brutal tool that will increase health care costs, without directly responding to COVID, or incentivizing increased access to medical care,” said Dr. Ashlin Mountjoy of Seattle.

The bill must pass out of committee in the next two weeks to be considered by the rest of the Senate this session.

Norman D. Briggs