- New legislation before the Senate would give VA nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe some drugs and treat patients independently of a physician, regardless of state laws.
- The bill, Frontlines to Lifelines Act of 2015, went before a hearing on Wednesday and received either support or neutral comments. The AMA hasn't yet taken a position, although the American Association of Nurse Practitioners has given its full support.
- The bill would also broaden the scope of a pilot program that places "intermediate-care technicians" in the Defense Department at the VA facilities with the longest wait times.
Many states are already adopting similar measures to address physician shortages and lengthy wait-times at VA facilities—most recently Maryland—so this bill shouldn't be a tough sell. While some physicians argue that relying too much on NPs is a safety hazard, research suggests that NPs' quality of care is about the same as doctors.