Physicians Derail NCSL-AARP Deal

Complaints from organized medicine about a November National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) webinar for lawmakers promoting an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on the role of nursing in health system reform prompted NCSL to cancel further plans to work with AARP on the issue.

In a letter to American Medical Association Board of Trustees Chair Ardis Hoven, MD, NCSL said it had "declined the contract with AARP intended to help them publicize the report." NCSL President State Sen. Richard T. Moore (D-Mass.) said the NCSL staff agreed "that the webinar would have been improved if it had included the physician perspective."

AMA, TMA, and other medical societies protested the Nov. 17, 2010, webinar entitled, "States Implementing Health System Reform: Advancing Health through Nursing," because it "suggested, without evidence or criticism, that the nation's serious health care workforce challenges could be solved by eliminating important patient safety provisions in state law regarding non-physicians' scope of practice.” Specifically, a letter to NCSL said, "the Webinar promoted the advocacy agenda of certain nursing and other organizations who argue against the value of all health care professionals working together in a coordinated, team-based fashion."

The letter said physicians "believe that the future of our nation's health care system is contingent on highly effective and efficient team models of care – not autonomous practice. It is also our belief that a health care professional's scope of practice should be determined by one's education and training.

"A physician has more than 10,000 hours of medical education and training while a nurse practitioner only is required to have 500 hours of nursing education and training. We believe this difference in education and training matters. It matters during times of medical emergencies. It matters in primary care situations when seemingly 'simple' conditions actually mask underlying, complex conditions. And it matters to ensure that the right diagnosis and treatment plan is made from the beginning to help save patients – and our nation's health system – money on unnecessary prescriptions, tests and referrals."

The letter noted that an NCSL staff decision to rescind an offer to AMA to participate in the webinar "eliminated the possibility of a balanced presentation and allowed, instead, a very one-sided presentation to a very complex set of issues."

Action, Feb. 15, 2011