Payment Regulations for Advanced Practice Nurses: Implications for Primary Care

May. 01, 2010

The shortage of primary care providers (PCPs) in the United States may be worsened with health reform if more individuals receive health insurance coverage. Previous research suggests that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) can provide as high quality care and achieve the same health outcomes as physicians. However, APRNs are usually reimbursed at lower rates than physicians by both Medicare and Medicaid. Private health insurance regulations and Any Willing Provider laws vary from state to state but in general do little to facilitate the ability of APRNs to be reimbursed for their services or to be credentialed as PCPs. To maximize the utilization of APRNs as PCPs, the payment system should be remodeled. A clear regulatory framework and payment rationale are needed along with data on the type and complexity of care provided by various practitioners to increase efficiencies and improve access to health care.

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