AARP asks policymakers to put patients first

Published 7:09 pm Monday, December 25, 2017

Dear Editor,

For AARP Georgia, and our more than 1.3 million members throughout the state, reliable access to quality health care is a top priority.

That is why we continue to support efforts to modernize state nursing laws so as to adopt full practice authority for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

AARP is fighting to break down the barriers that prevent APRNs from using all their expertise in caring for patients, especially older people who need to receive care at home to continue living independently — and stay out of costly nursing homes.

These barriers often delay care to consumers, especially in rural and urban undeserved areas where few physicians are available to enter contractual agreements with APRNs. Delays in care not only hurt the consumers, but place added stress on family caregivers, who are all too often overwhelmed with bearing the brunt of providing and overseeing the care of a loved one.

It can also add unnecessary costs by requiring payments to physicians for collaboration and take precious time away from patient care by making clinicians fill out unnecessary paperwork.

Further, AARP is calling on policy makers to put patients first, by supporting policies which improve care and remove red tape to assure that Georgia’s citizens can receive quality care whenever and wherever they need it.

The vast majority of Georgians want to live independently as they age, and need access to routine care in a variety of settings so they can remain at home.

Georgia restricts the authority of APRNs and yet, there are 79 counties that have no OB/GYN physicians, 63 counties without pediatricians, 31 counties with no internal medicine physicians and six counties which have no family physicians.

With over 11,000 licensed APRNs in the state, these frontline health care providers have many overlapping skills sets with the physician providers for which there is a shortage most pronounced in rural Georgia.

Eight rural hospitals in Georgia have closed since 2010 — and many others face financial hardships.

AARP is closely following the issue of full practice authority on the national as well as state level.

We know Georgia would benefit from this policy because we have watched patients and seniors and other states benefit from the same policy. Likewise, we know the most commonly cited concerns on full practice authority simply have not materialized in other states that have adopted it.

The status quo is failing too many Georgians to be considered a viable option In light of the evidence, national recommendations, expert health policy and health care endorsements, and the patient and health system benefits, the only question left is: why not take every opportunity to put patients first and expand care for Georgia?


Debra Tyler-Horton

AARP Georgia State Director

Lee Baker

AARP Georgia State President

Kay Argroves, CRNA