Bonamici Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Primary Care for People Covered by Medicaid

Aug 2, 2013 Issues: Health Care

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) today introduced the Protecting Access to Primary Care Act (H.R. 2986) to improve access to primary care for individuals enrolled in Medicaid. The bill will improve reimbursement rates for nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other primary health care providers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presently provides improved reimbursement rates for physicians, but does not similarly increase reimbursement rates for other primary care providers like nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

“We know that we need more primary care providers to meet the needs of our population,” said Bonamici. “Unfortunately the ACA only provides improved reimbursement to physicians, and leaves behind other providers, like independent nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The legislation I introduced makes a small but significant change to the ACA that will encourage more primary care providers to care for Medicaid patients.”

"Medicaid enrollees across the country are increasingly relying on nurse practitioners as their primary care providers, especially in rural or underserved areas.  With enrollment in Medicaid increasing as eligibility expands, it's critical that patients have access to NPs in order to meet the growing demand for their services”, said Roger Fogg, FNP, Oregon State Representative for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.     

Angie Golden, President, American Association of Nurse Practitioners agrees, adding that “AANP deeply appreciates Congresswoman Bonamici's effort to address this need by introducing this legislation to ensure that patients have access to NPs and that NPs are able to receive appropriate payment for the primary care services they provide to their patients on Medicaid.”

“This bill is a simple fix that will help meet the Affordable Care Act’s goal of increasing access to primary care,” said Susan King, MS, RN, CEN, FAAN, Executive Director of the Oregon Nurses Association. “Nurse practitioners are increasingly providing primary care to Oregonians and this bill will ensure that the reimbursement structure is based on the service, not the type of provider.”

“As an Oregon nurse practitioner I’m educated and licensed to provide primary care services to my patients,” said Jean-Claude Provost, DNP, President of nurse practitioners of Oregon. “This legislation will extend the primary care incentives in the ACA to nurse practitioners like me who practice independently and are helping more people access primary care.”

The Affordable Care Act greatly expands the population served by Medicaid, increasing demand for the services of primary care providers. Oregon expects to serve an additional 240,000 Medicaid patents by 2016. To encourage primary care providers to service this expanded population, the ACA temporarily allowed for Medicare-level reimbursements of Medicaid patients in 2013 and 2014. Bonamici’s legislation applies the increased rate to nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, physician assistants, and certified nurse-midwives.

H.R. 2986 is endorsed by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.