In health care reform push, Oliva highlights nurse practitioners

by | Feb 19, 2020

Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva really wants to revamp health care reform. The latest sign: his continued the practice of designating a Nurse Practitioner of the Day during the legislative session. 

It’s a move designed to elicit support  for the passage of HB 607, sponsored by State Representative Cary Pigman, who is also a trained emergency medicine physician. The bill would allow nurse practitioners more autonomy to deliver health care for patients. 

If passed, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (ARPNs) who meet certain eligibility requirements would be allowed to:

Engage in autonomous practice and perform acts of advanced or specialized nursing practice without a supervisory protocol or supervision by a physician. The bill also authorizes a physician’s assistant who meets certain eligibility to register with the Board of Medicine or the Board of Osteopathic Medicine to practice primary care as an autonomous physician’s assistant without supervision by a physician.

Today, Oliva recognized Donna Bixler, ARNP, as the Nurse Practitioner of the Day in the state’s Legislative Clinic. Bixler is a family nurse practitioner affiliated with the Internal Medicine division at Southern Medical Group in Tallahassee.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Masters of Science in Nursing from Florida State University. She also holds a national certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

The Speaker first recognized a Nurse Practitioner of the Day in his opening remarks of the 2020 Legislative Session on January 14th.  Bixler is the third Nurse Practitioner to be highlighted this session. Oliva is scheduled to recognize two more ARNP’s before session ends in early March.

Florida ranks 31st in the nation in primary care doctors to population ratio, a stat that has lawmakers, and especially Oliva, alarmed. 

But not all doctors share his concerns. Many doctor and physician groups have been extremely vocal in their opposition. 

“As a member of the Florida Patient Protection Coalition, it is critical we push back on special interest groups who seek to compromise the quality of health care by allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants to practice beyond the scope of their education and training,” said Christie Alexander, MD. “This coalition believes patients’ best interests are optimally served when they are treated in a physician-led, team-based model of care.”

While there are two distinct sides at odds over HB 607, a national poll released today underscored the reason for Oliva’s push: cutting health care and prescription drug costs is top concern of all American voters, regardless of political party or affiliation:

The vast majority of Americans rank cutting health care and prescription drug costs as their top priorities heading into election season, regardless of party affiliation, according to a new POLITICO-Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey.

Roughly 80 percent of those surveyed ranked “taking steps to lower the cost of health care” as “extremely” or “very” important, including 89 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans. Reducing prescription-drug costs saw similar support at 75 percent, with majorities in both parties ranking it as extremely or very important.

The poll, released by Politico, surveyed 1,011 American adults and had a margin of error of 5 percent.

1 Comment

  1. Paul

    Ask the good doctor how much time she spends leading her team. I mean time per patient because my internist did not see me for three years while his ARNP did…

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