Consumers and Nurse Practitioners Applaud Scorecard Update
Reviewing a Decade of Nurse Scope of Practice Progress
The recently released 5th Edition of AARP’s Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard tells the story through data of how nurse practitioners have given consumers increased access to care and services. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have additional education and clinical training to be able to order tests, diagnose illness, and prescribe medications and treatments.
The Scorecard tracks states’ support for family caregivers through several indicators including nurse practitioner scope of practice. In states where nurse practitioners practice to the full extent of their education and training, consumers benefit from more primary care services including house calls. When the first Scorecard was released in 2011, just 14 states allowed patients access to the full range of care nurse practitioners are educated and trained to provide. The 5th edition of the Scorecard reveals that the number of states has doubled, increasing to 27 states plus the District of Columbia.
Nurse practitioners are the nation’s largest providers of house calls. The prior edition of the Scorecard identified a long-standing barrier to consumer access to Medicare Home Health Services. In prior years, if a nurse practitioner saw a patient in a medical office or on a house call and recommended home health services, the nurse practitioner had to get a physician to sign the form. That delayed care and increased costs. Some physicians charged a fee for their signature. Other physicians would not sign the form unless the patient was seen in their office, which often meant a trip by ambulance.
This complicated and costly barrier to accessing home health services was removed with the passage of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Consumers and nurse practitioners can celebrate this change.