‘Floridians Unite for Health Care’ Thanks House Speaker Oliva for Highlighting the “Nurse Practitioner of the Day” & Encourages Legislature to Support HB 607

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Across Florida Join Forces with Florida’s Business Community in Support of HB 607 Under the “Floridians Unite for Health Care” Coalition

A newly formed coalition, ‘Floridians Unite for Health Care,’ today thanked Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva for recognizing APRN Dr. Doreen Cassarino as the “Nurse Practitioner of the Day,” a recognition that is unique to Speaker Oliva’s second address to the Florida House marking the start of the 2020 Legislative Session.  In addition, the coalition thanks Speaker Oliva for his support of Representative Cary Pigman’s House Bill 607, which would allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants to practice independently.

“I am honored to have been asked to come to Tallahassee today to be recognized by House Speaker Oliva for the work that I and all of the nurse practitioners across our great state do each day for Florida families,” said Dr. Cassarino, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, BC-ADM, FAANP, FNAP, a family nurse practitioner from Naples, Fla., who was recognized by Speaker Oliva during his opening remarks on the House Floor today.  “I have been a strong advocate for the nurse practitioners profession for several years now, and to have the support of the Speaker of the House for APRNs to be able to practice to the full extent of our education and training is overwhelming. I thank him for his support and am hopeful that together we can help increase access to care for the betterment of Florida patients.”

Dr. Cassarino is known for developing and implementing an inter-professional pre-diabetes program and an inter-professional care model and was one of the first of 300 nurse practitioners nationwide to hold the prestigious Board Certification in Advanced Diabetes Management.  She is also a past-president of the Florida Nurse Practitioner Network (FNPN), a member of the coalition.

Joining forces under the Floridians Unite for Health Care coalition in support of HB 607 are several nursing organizations, including the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists (FANA), Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners (FLANP), Florida Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses (FLCAPN), FNPN, and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN); members of the business, health care, and insurance community, including the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), Florida Blue, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), and the Florida Insurance Council (FIC); as well as political advocacy groups, including the Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL).

“On behalf of the Floridians Unite for Health Care coalition, we thank House Speaker Oliva for bringing attention to this very important health care issue this session,” said Nicole Livanos, senior associate in state advocacy and legislative affairs for NCSBN and a spokesperson for the Floridians Unite for Health Care coalition.  “By supporting Representative Pigman’s bill to remove unnecessary restrictions to APRNs, Florida has an opportunity to address the state’s need for more health care providers and provide more Floridians with access to safe and quality care. We encourage the Florida Legislature to join with House Speaker Oliva and Representative Pigman in supporting this legislation that will allow us to deliver better health care outcomes for Florida patients.”

Due to an increase in individuals who have gained health insurance coverage, as well as the aging American population, many states, like Florida, are currently faced with the issue of meeting the increased demand for health care providers.  In Florida, only 2 percent of physicians practice in the state’s 30 rural communities. Meanwhile, there are more than 32,000 APRNs licensed in Florida with four nationally recognized APRN roles, including Certified Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, who are available to increase access to care in these areas of the state.

Historically, Florida’s laws did not contemplate the sophisticated education and training APRNs receive today. “As Florida’s population continues to grow and health care costs continue to rise, we are proud to support Speaker Oliva’s efforts to seek innovative ways to modernize the health care delivery system in Florida,” said FANA President Jose Castillo III PhD, MS, CRNA, APRN. “This legislation will increase access and allow APRNs to provide safe, cost-effective, quality health care to patients in thousands of communities, especially in rural, inner-city and other medically underserved areas of the state.”

Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have acted to remove restrictions on APRNs with legislation pending in multiple states to remove restrictions.  APRNs are also able to practice without state-mandated restrictions in the Veterans Health Administration, Indian Health Services and the United States Military.

“By removing state-mandated physician supervisory licensure requirements, it would allow APRNs to supplement health care options for patients and provide specialty services for patients across the state,” said Arlene Wright, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FNAP, president of FNPN.  “That is why we have joined this coalition to spread the word on the importance of passing HB 607 by Representative Pigman. Not only will this legislation increase access to care, it will decrease health care costs resulting in a cost savings to our health system of $50-$493 per Floridian.” 

“AIF applauds Speaker Oliva for his commitment to health care in Florida,” said AIF Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs Brewster Bevis.  “His support of eliminating restrictions of APRNs will have a positive impact on Florida’s economy to the tune of more than $1 billion in estimated increased wages and new job creation.  This is an opportunity our Sunshine State simply cannot leave on the table. We encourage members of the legislature to support this good bill that would increase access to health care for all Floridians.”

A White House report “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition” calls on states to remove barriers to APRN practice to allow all health care providers to practice to the full extent of their education and training.  Further, the Federal Trade Commission advised that “scope of practice restrictions may eliminate APRNs as a source of safe, lower-cost competition, and may restrict competition unnecessarily to the detriment of heath care consumers.”

“It’s as simple as this: Florida’s serious shortage of health care providers threatens the health and well-being of countless residents, while it also prevents highly trained nurse practitioners from using all their skills to help patients,” said Vernon Langford, president of FLANP.  Speaker Oliva’s support for this legislation is a major step forward to allow nurse practitioners to help those who can benefit from their training.” 

“With 900 new residents moving to Florida each day, and 4.5 million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, it’s vital that Floridians have greater access to care, particularly in rural and underserved communities,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.  “Expanding scope of practice for Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners will allow them to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and training, and will help provide Floridians greater access to high-value, quality health care.”

HB 607, which passed the House Quality Subcommittee as a committee substitute by a vote of 14 yeas and 1 nay, has also been referred to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Health & Human Services Committee.  

For more information on the Floridians Unite for Health Care coalition, please visit FloridiansUniteforHealthCare.com.

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