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Letter: Texas must keep its nurse practitioners
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has proposed a marketing plan designed to attract nurse practitioners to New Mexico to help deal with the state’s primary care shortage. This plan takes aim directly at nurse practitioners in Texas, capitalizing on the limited scope of practice for our practitioners.
Even though SB 406 passed and went into effect on Nov. 1, while it was a slight improvement, nurse practitioners in Texas are still extremely limited by unnecessary delegation and supervisory requirements not found in almost every other state, specifically next door in New Mexico. Texas will certainly suffer while New Mexico remedies its primary shortage through the valued hands of our educated nurse practitioners.
Texas currently ranks 47th among 50 states in supply of primary care physicians. With 185 counties (73 percent of the state) designated as medically underserved, and with the growth of the state’s population, we will see between 1.5 million and 2 million more low-income Texans eligible for Medicaid in 2014. The numbers tell the story; we financially cannot afford to lose more nurse practitioners to other states simply because of our outdated regulations.
Nurse practitioners increase access to primary care, and lower costs by reducing emergent care. To keep costs in control, it is an absolute must that we reform our practice authority regulations. All of the surrounding states -- New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona -- have full practice authority for nurse practitioners, and offer us a viable proven road map that Texas can adopt to attract more nurse practitioners rather than lose them.
As we close out National Nurse Practitioner Week, I am saddened to realize once again that our regulations harm our patients and force our providers out of state. If we always do what we’ve always done, we will always get what we’ve always gotten. We have to do better.
President, Texas Nurse Practitioners
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