On Tuesday, members of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services (JLOC-HHS) heard testimony from Christopher Conover, PhD recommending the relaxation of supervision requirements for all Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in NC.  This recommendation was based on a meta-analysis study paid for by the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA).  The study, which was premised on the expectation of a physician shortage, speculated that APRNs are the solution to the impending physician shortage.  The conclusion asserted that relaxing supervision would have a three-fold benefit of (1) improving access, (2) improving quality and (3) lowering cost.
Many of the committee members questioned the assumptions inherent in Conover’s presentation, citing the absence of any physicians on the steering committee charged with studying a physician shortage; no grasp of the cost components embedded in the studies that were used in the meta-analysis; and the lack of comparative quality data in light of the broad spectrum of practitioners considered APRNs.  Both House and Senate committee members suggested that the essence of the problem facing our state is   the growing concentration of health care providers in the 14 most populous counties and therefore dwindling access to providers in North Carolina’s rural communities.  The committee recommended further discussion at the next meeting in March.
North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) staff will continue to follow this issue closely and provide you with opportunities to communicate with your legislators about the resources needed to provide care to North Carolina’s rural citizens. A copy of the slides used during the presentation can be found here.