Nurse practitioners finding themselves unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic could have to wait months to wade through state regulations necessary to get back to work.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners asked Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday to temporarily suspend a series of regulations for nurse practitioners that requires them to seek a collaborative agreement with a physician before they can provide care.
The regulations have been a point of contention in the health care industry for years and a bill is currently awaiting approval in the state House that would allow practitioners to find employment without first finding physicians to partner with.
The coalition, on behalf of its members, asked the state to suspend the regulations in the wake of COVID-19, to allow any nurse practitioner currently waiting on collaborative agreements to return to work immediately.
Under current regulations, nurse practitioners must find a physician, negotiate an agreement and submit an application to the state, which can take months.
“We have one mission: to care for patients during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Adele Caruso, president of the coalition. “Yet there are nurse practitioners today in Pennsylvania who are unable to work due to outdated regulations.”
Wolf recently pulled back on the regulations by allowing nurse practitioners licensed in one focus area to practice in other areas during the pandemic. The administration also lowered the number of agreements needed from two physicians to one.
Caruso noted that five other states have suspended their collaborative agreement rules, including New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Louisiana and Wisconsin, and asked Wolf to do the same.
“We urge Governor Wolf to go one step further, similar to the other Governors, to waive the restrictive barriers and put our nurse practitioners to work immediately,” she said.