With a physician shortage looming in Ohio, pressure on the state’s health care system continues to grow. Estimates suggest that Ohio will face a shortage of more than 5,000 primary-care physicians by 2020, with the problem becoming particularly acute in impoverished inner city and rural areas. The health care situation in Ohio is already fairly dire, with the Health Policy Institute of Ohio reporting that the state ranks 47th in general health and access to affordable care.
Increasing access to highly trained advanced practice nurse practitioners (ARPNs) is one way to quickly and cost-effectively address the shortage of health care providers in Ohio. APRNs in Ohio are currently subject to cumbersome restrictions that limit their ability to practice. These graduate-trained nurses must have a written practice agreement with a physician, and this is a particular problem in areas with a shortage of physicians.
Representative Dorothy Pelanda introduced a bill to remove many of the restrictions on APRNs, so they can practice to their full capacity. Known as the Advanced practice registered nurses-revise law, House Bill 216 would enable Ohio’s APRNs to work more independently and give them full practice authority. For instance, APRNs would be able to prescribe most drugs as pat of their license without needing a separate certificate.
A RAND Health study from 2015 estimated that removing unnecessary restrictions on APRNs in the state would reduce emergency department visits by 70,000 a year, saving Ohio millions of dollars annually.
House Bill 216 was introduced in the House on May 18, 2015 and referred to the Health & Aging Committee eight days later where it is pending as of September, 2015. If passed, Ohio would join the ranks of nearly half of the states in the nation that have approved similar measures.