TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (March 11, 2020) — Patient-centered health care policies that allow nurse practitioners to work to the full extent of their training and expand pharmacist scope of practice were signed into law Wednesday, the same day they were passed by both the House and the Senate.
Under HB 607, passed 107-8, qualified nurse practitioners may provide primary care without physician supervision. Under HB 389, passed 98-17, pharmacists may help patients manage their chronic conditions in collaboration with a physician, and may test and treat flu and strep throat, and treat other minor conditions.
Both bills are effective July 1.
Florida has 278 primary care health professional shortage areas. That is one reason why the APRN independent practice bill was a top priority of Speaker Jose Oliva’s for the 2020 Session.
“Today’s passage of the APRN independent practice bill sends a clear and timely message Floridians’ access to quality health care is our top priority,” Speaker Oliva said. “I am deeply proud to see this legislation signed into law today, and am grateful for the support of President Galvano and Governor DeSantis. Freeing APRNs of the red tape that has historically stopped them from working to the full extent of their education and training will immediately improve access to quality care for all.”
Today, there are more than 30,000 APRNs active across Florida — all with graduate degrees, many doctoral — trained to diagnose and treat illness and disease. They remain stifled in their ability to help patients because a physician must supervise them.
Sponsored by emergency-medicine physician and Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Okeechobee, HB 607 brings Florida in line with dozens of other states that allow for independent practice, opening up more options for patients.
APRNs must have at least a master’s degree or post-graduate program and hold a certification from a recognized specialty board. They must carry liability insurance and have more than 3,000 hours of supervised residency.
“Beyond the classroom, the data from statewide experiments across the nation demonstrate without a doubt that nurse practitioners are highly skilled, highly trained, and highly eager to care for patients independently,” Pigman said. “Advance practice professionals achieve higher marks in patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, and they spend more time actually talking to patients.”
HB 389 also addresses the primary care shortage by allowing pharmacists to help patients in two new ways:
working alongside physicians to treat chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, arthritis, HIV and other conditions.
testing and treating for flu, strep, lice, skin conditions and minor, uncomplicated infections.
“As we look toward the future of health care in our state, it is important we consider innovative and convenient ways to provide additional access to care for Florida’s families,” HB 389 sponsor Rep. Tyler Sirois said. “If you have kids, like mine, that inevitably get sick on the Friday night of a three day weekend — this bill is for you.”