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FMA, TaxWatch spar over nurse practitioner report


A recent report from Florida TaxWatch backs proposals before the Legislature to allow highly trained nurses to practice independently from doctors and prescribe controlled substances.  House Bill 7071 and SB 1352, are waiting committee hearings but have the backing of the conservative House leadership, who have focused on health care workforce issues as a counterpoint to opposing Medicaid expansion.

TaxWatch's "Diagnosing the Debate" report -- found here -- says the state could save $44 million in Medicaid spending and up to $339 million in total by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice with fewer restrictions. Highly trained nurses could meet as much as 80 percent of the state's primary care needs, the report said.

The Florida Medical Association, a powerful lobby group representing doctors, opposes proposals to grant nurse practitioners more independence. It released a strongly worded statement today pointing out what it says are "five serious flaws" in the report and calling on TaxWatch to correct the record. The association accused TaxWatch of using outdated data and faulty assumptions in arriving at its conclusions. 

"This report, which is based largely on a government memorandum that is now four years old, is so fundamentally flawed and misleading, it requires immediate correction," said Jeff Scott, FMA's general counsel in a news release. "The report is based on numerous assumptions that are demonstrably and irrefutably false."

This afternoon, TaxWatch said it stands by the report and dismissed the FMA as "special interest group" intent on protecting its turf by lobbying for the continued restrictions on highly trained nurses.

It addressed some of the association's claims while repeating the assertion that expanding scope of practice for highly skilled health care workers is the right thing to do.

"Now, more than ever, it is crucial to expand access to care for Floridians," said Robert E. Weissert, TaxWatch's chief research officer and general counsel. "Allowing our state's (advanced registered nurse practitioners) and (physician assistants), who are qualified medical professionals, to practice with fewer restrictions would expand access opportunities to our state's residents and provide significant savings for Florida and its hard-working taxpayers."


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TaxWatch is nothing more than a report for rent front group. Everyone knows they're for sale and no one takes them seriously.

Laurie Grissman

So What is FMA saying..... That it won't save money? DO THE MATH... And how about the access to care it would allow? As the Taxwatch states.... FMA IS SIMPLY A "special interest group" Doctors worry that they will lose money if ARNPs can practice independently.... They only will lose money if they are cashing out on the business of charging ARNPs collaboration fees... Doctors should earn money from helping patients and not screwing ARNPs! What evidence do physicians actually have against ARNPs? NONE. There is no evidence out there that ARNPs don't provide efficient and safe and cost effective care. So instead of trying to say they went to school longer than ARNPs do.... My argument is that maybe the board of medicine needs to wake up and realize that it isn't necessary for a primary care doctor to do all that schooling for just primary care... CHANGE YOUR SYSTEM! Don't complain because the nursing system works!

Can't take anymore

FMA is really only about the money. Just how much energy do they put into policing their own corrupt and incompetent members? One has to practically be convicted of multiple axe murders to lose their Florida medical license. Perhaps there is just too much "old boy" in the medical education system; it even shows up in female physicians trained in the traditional "medical model" of health care.

concerned MD

Physicians' opposition to this proposed expanded scope of practice bill involves way more than "protecting their turf." They intend to protect their patients from nurses and assistants who will misdiagnose and mistreat Florida's patients. Nobody can publicly say that, but I see it almost every day in my office. A Physician ASSISTANT does just 2 years of school, compared to the 4 years of school plus 3-6 years of residency required of physicians. That education and training makes a world of difference in practicing medicine. Of course nurses and assistants will downplay this, and then give you antibiotics for a viral infection.


You want to talk about a turf war! I don't see ARNP/CRNA/CNM supporting independent practice for PA-C, AA-C, and RPA-C which holds advanced degrees in health care.

Nothing about a nursing education provides any training in the practice of anesthesia, ob, and family practice; this training occurs in their graduate education.

If an ARNP/CRNA/CNM can replace a MD, then you must remove all restrictions to the LPN which will provide huge health dollars savings.

I am college professor in accounting. S.D.,MBA,PhD,CPA

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