Pennsylvania-based health insurer Highmark Inc. announced last week that it will recognize nurse practitioners as primary care providers. That designation is important, because it allows nurse practitioners (NPs) to receive direct reimbursement for their care.
NPs have struggled for years for full recognition and equal pay. According to pennlive.com, Pennsylvania NPs received the right to prescribe meds in 1979 — but were unable to exercise the right until the year 2000, when the state’s nursing and medical boards actually ironed out the details.
Highmark officials have stated that the move is partly a response to the shortage of doctors. Like other health insurers and healthcare experts, they expect the demand for health services to increase when and if the Healthcare Reform law is fully implemented — and they’re looking to nurse practitioners to fill that gap.
A recent report by the Institute of Medicine supports Highmark’s action. Their report,“The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advocating Health,” advocates eliminating barriers that keep nurses, especially advanced practice nurses, from practicing to the full extent of their license.
Does your state recognize NPs as primary providers?