FTC Staff: Connecticut Should Consider Expanding Advance Practice Registered Nurses’ Role in Patient Care

Federal Trade Commission staff, in response to a request from Connecticut State Representative Theresa W. Conroy, provided comments on the likely competitive impact of Connecticut House Bill 6391, stating that eliminating the requirement that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) have collaborative agreements with physicians in order to practice independently could benefit Connecticut health care consumers by expanding choices for patients, containing costs, and improving access to primary health care services.

According to the FTC staff comment, state law requires that APRNs have a collaborative practice arrangement with a physician before the APRN may diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for their patients.  The proposed law would remove the collaborative practice requirement entirely and allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education and training without such an agreement.  The FTC staff comment recognizes that collaboration between APRNs and other healthcare providers is often beneficial to patients, but such collaboration does not necessarily require direct supervision of one licensed health care provider by another.

“Given the potential benefits of eliminating unwarranted impediments to APRN practice we recommend that the Connecticut legislature seek to ensure that statutory limits on APRNs are no stricter than patient protection requires,” the FTC staff comment stated.  “[W]e encourage the legislature to carefully consider available safety evidence on APRN practice in Connecticut and elsewhere.  Absent a finding there are countervailing safety concerns regarding APRN practice, HB6391 appears to be a pro-competitive improvement in the law that would benefit Connecticut health care consumers.”

The comment is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to promote competition in the health care sector, which benefits consumers through lower costs, better care, and more innovation.

The Commission vote approving the staff comment was 4-0.  It was sent to Connecticut State Representative Theresa W. Conroy on March 19, 2013.  A copy of the letter can be found on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release.  (FTC File No. V130006; the staff contact is Patricia Schultheiss, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2877.)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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