Atrius Health Joins Growing List of Supporters of Expanded Scope of Practice Legislation

| Posted On Nov 20, 2015 | By:

Dr. Richard Lopez, Chief Medical Officer of Atrius Health, testified earlier this week before the Joint Committee on Public Health in support of legislation that would remove restrictions on the licenses of nurse practitioners in the state (so-called “expanded scope of practice”).  Dr. Lopez was joined by Representative Denise Garlick (D-Needham), one of many legislative sponsors, to urge passage of HB1996 and SB1207, “An Act to Remove the Restrictions on the Licenses of NPs and CRNA’s as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and the Federal Trade Commission.”

During his testimony, Dr. Lopez pointed out that Atrius Health employs approximately 275 nurse practitioners who work side by side with physicians and serve as a critical part of our care team.  “As a primary care physician, I can attest to the value nurse practitioners bring to the overall quality of patient care,” Dr. Lopez testified. “I have worked with a nurse practitioner in my practice in Medford since 1982 and deeply value what nurse practitioners do to serve my patients.”

Richard Lopez testifying 11-17-15

Pictured is Richard Lopez, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Atrius Health testifying along with Representative Denise Garlick (D-Needham).











Dr. Lopez stated that nurse practitioners must adhere to national professional standards and must maintain their own professional malpractice insurance. “The literature for over 40 years has substantiated the quality of care provided by these nursing professionals. The Institute of Medicine has been very clear that if we as a nation are to solve our health care access and cost pressures, then removing barriers to nurse practitioner practice is a wise policy.”

“Removing the requirement for physician supervision eliminates administrative burdens for our care delivery. This legislation would remove the mandate for supervision of nurse practitioners for prescriptive practice as well as practice guidelines with a physician. The mandate as currently required is time-consuming and adds waste to the health care system. I do not believe this is a patient safety issue as nurse practitioners are fully trained and competent to independently prescribe medications within their scope of practice without physician supervision,” Lopez said. “Finally, we support the provision of the bills that update the Nurse Practice Act to allow nurse practitioners to not only order tests and therapeutics, but also allow these highly trained health care professionals to interpret these tests in order to best treat our patients, thus eliminating the need for a review by a physician.”

Atrius Health supports this legislation and believes that removing physician supervision will not impede nurse practitioners from following the model of patient-centered, team-based care that we promote and have been engaged in for many years. Integrated health care systems such as Atrius Health should be able to determine how best to utilize our nurse practitioners to increase access to affordable care.  Our physicians and nurse practitioners work collaboratively to develop better ways to coordinate care within the patient-centered medical home as well as across multiple settings. We continually work to identify new and better ways to coordinate transitions of care to provide better outcomes for our patients.

“From a physician perspective, these changes will free me up from unnecessary administrative tasks imposed by current regulations and enable me to spend more time focusing on direct patient care and practicing at the top of my license. In addition, passage of this legislation will provide for needed changes to help organizations, such as Atrius Health, be better prepared for the many changes underway as we transform the health care delivery system in the state. We would urge the committee to act favorably on this legislation,” Lopez concluded.

This legislation has nearly 40 legislative sponsors. In addition to Atrius Health, other supporters of the legislation include the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, Partners Health Care, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers as well as a wide variety of state and national professional nursing organizations.

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