On November 7, 2017 our bill,H. 2451/S. 1257,along with more than 30 other scope of practice bills, was heard before the Joint Committee on Public Health (JCPH).
MCNP presented testimony supporting the key goals of our bill related to increased access, cost savings and removal of additional barriers for treatment for patients with opioid dependence.
In addition to words of support by our House Co-Sponsor Paul Donato, State Auditor Suzanne Bump endorsed H.2451/S.1257 for its potential to improve administrative efficiency, reduce costs and decrease Masshealth spending.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Lopez and Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Derkazarian from Atrius Health (pictured right) highlighted the crucial role of NPs in the Atrius healthcare system as well as the administrative burdens of the current NP licensing requirements related to prescriptive oversight.
A panel focusing on how NPs can increase access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for patients with opioid dependence was led by Colleen Labelle, Program Director, State Technical Assistance Treatment Expansion Office Based Opioid Treatment with Buprenorphine. Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, CEO Lynn Community Health Center and Dr. Rachel King, Medical Director, Opioid Addiction Treatment ECHO, Boston Medical Center, shared personal experiences describing long wait times for MAT and how NPs could be utilized more effectively in battling the opioid epidemic if requirements for prescriptive oversight were removed.
Additional testimony was provided by Jane Ahern-DeFillippi from AARP of Massachusetts who is a strong supporter H. 2451/S. 1257, and Past President of ANA of Mass, Myra Cacace.MCNP Legislative Chair and Past President Stephanie Ahmed (pictured left) gave compelling testimony noting" While Massachusetts has led the nation with respect to health reform, it is important to note we are lagging as it relates to positioning advanced practice nurses to impact the untoward consequence of universal health care coverage - access to coverage without access to care. What we propose today, is actually NOT a bold idea, 22 states including DC have already passed this legislation and provided their citizens access to NP driven care - we are the only state in New England that remains restricted."
As anticipated, testimony in opposition to our bill was presented by several panels representing organized medicine. Using fear tactics suggesting that "sub-standard" care would be provided by NPs practicing independently outside of the healthcare team, they focused on differences in training and education and presented misinformation about lack of core competencies in NP education, NPs having "limited" clinical reasoning and decision making skills, "observation only"clinical preparation, "fully online NP programs with 100% acceptance rates," higher malpractice claims for NPs and concluded that "every patient deserves a physician."
Given the false perceptions created by the organized medicine panels, we were particularly grateful to our physician colleagues who testified on our behalf and strongly advocated for our practice and the quality of our care.
We want to thank our new lobbying team of O'Neill & Associates and Finneran Global Strategists who worked diligently to help us prepare for our hearing and successfully execute a coordinated online and social media campaign which culminated with an Op-Ed piece in Commonwealth Magazine.
And many thanks to the more than 550 NPs and NP supporters who responded to our action alerts over the past 2 weeks and generated more than 1100 emails to legislators. Your voices have been heard!
We will keep you updated on the deliberations of the Joint Committee on Public Health and will let you know as soon as we hear their decision regarding our bill.
In the meantime, we are monitoring the progress of the Senate Healthcare bill and have introduced amendments for more inclusive language for NPs and for removal of prescriptive oversight and joint promulgation.
Our hearing before the JCPH was our first step of many to get our bill passed into law. Please be on the lookout for updates and action alerts and help us pass H. 2451/S. 1257 so that you can practice to the full extent of your education and training and patients can have increased access to NP care.
The MCNP Legislative Team