What Scope of Practice Means for Florida

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Florida’s population is growing at a record pace, in fact, we recently surpassed New York as the third most populous state in the nation. And with another six million residents estimated to call Florida home by 2030, our state must think about long-term sustainable solutions to meet Florida’s healthcare needs. This is where scope of practice legislation can help. By allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of what they have been educated and trained to do without physician oversight, we can cut down costs and provide greater access to care.

When nurse practitioners can’t prescribe medicine to patients, they often have to send patients to the emergency room. For patients without insurance, this immediately causes a hidden fee to every Floridian because this becomes uncompensated care. Currently, Floridians pay an additional $1.4 billion in hidden healthcare taxes to cover healthcare received by the uninsured. That’s about $2,000 on insured Floridians for every hospital stay to cover the cost of the uninsured.

According to the Robert Graham Center, Florida will need about 4,600 more primary care providers by 2030. Susan Lynch, Nurse Practitioner and CEO Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners, explains the problem:

“There are not enough physicians in the pipeline who are choosing primary care,” said Lynch. “And yet, Florida is graduating about 200 nurse practitioners a year who are able to take care of these residents. So if you don’t have the ability for people to get primary care, they wind up in the emergency room. And again, we wind up with cost shifting and spiraling out of control cost to insurance companies. It’s an unsustainable system that we have now.”

The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan includes eliminating this expensive cost shift on Florida’s families and businesses, as well as producing better health and economic outcomes, and improving access to healthcare for uninsured Floridians. We believe that Florida can do more for smarter healthcare coverage.

“We love the [Florida] Chamber and the [Florida] Chamber has really come out with a great seven point plan on how to cover people in Florida who are still uncovered with insurance,” said Lynch. “We are working with them to try to get the message out, to partner with them to  meet with legislators and the communities to let them know the real problem and that ultimately, every Floridian bears the cost every time we delay passing these laws.”