The state of Pennsylvania makes it illegal for nurse practitioners to work without a physician’s sign-off. That’s not the case in some states who are following the policy recommended by the Institutes of Medicine.
Letting nurse practitioners practice autonomously is important because if we do the Obamacare coverage expansion, but don’t improve health care providers’ capacity to treat all those new people, prices and wait times are going to go up. There are a lot more nurse practitioners than doctors, so if we let them do more on their own, we won’t see that crunch.
Here’s a good video from Vox explaining the issue, along with a post on some other things – like all-payer rate setting – we could be doing at the state level to bring down our health care prices.