Late Tuesday, the state took an important step toward improving health care for millions of Californians when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 890, which allows highly qualified and certified nurse practitioners (NPs) to provide primary care as they practice to the full extent of their training.
This is a win for Californians nearly a decade in the making. And it’s one that demonstrates the power of perseverance when it comes to doing what’s right to make health care better, more efficient, and more accessible – especially for rural communities, communities with high uninsured populations, and communities with a dearth of providers.
It’s also a signal that the future of health care in California means changing the status quo. Physicians fought tooth and nail against this bill for many years, despite the clear benefits to the people we all serve. Among them:
- NPs are far more likely to provide primary care than physicians and more likely than physicians to see and take new Medi-Cal and uninsured patients.
- California NPs are more likely to work in a community health center than physicians.
- When states have changed their regulations to allow full practice authority, they saw increases in use of primary care and decreases in ED use.
- In states that have granted full practice authority to NPs, the numbers of NPs providing care for underserved populations increases.
- Full practice authority for NPs is linked to fewer avoidable hospitalizations and fewer hospital readmissions.
If the discrete components that make up California’s health care system are to truly improve health care in the coming years, it will mean casting aside long held and immutable creeds in favor of collaboration and compromise toward common goals.
Indeed – this is all about getting people the care they need, and with that as a guiding principle, hospitals will continue to remain both on the right side of history and at the forefront of change for the better.