"Senate Bill 5222 would create a payment parity for ARNPs. The bill would require health plans to reimburse a contracted ARNP at the same rate as contracted physicians who are providing the same services. The bill also does not allow health carriers to reduce the reimbursement amount paid to physicians in order to comply with this act."
What a terrible idea. In what other industry are entry/midlevel workers reimbursed at the same rate as senior employees? Are paralegals making the same hourly rate as the attorneys they work for? Do we really think that a midlevel nurse practitioner, potentially one from a 100% online, for-profit, diploma-mill institution that includes as little as 625 clinical training hours, is comparable to a board-eligible/board-certified physician who completed four years of medical school, three years of residency, and possibly more years in fellowship?
The article quotes Dr. Gary Franklin, the medical director for the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, who says that "ARNPs and primary care physicians were very comparable in terms of medical cost and of outcomes, including disability outcomes, and that ARNPs had greater accessibility in more rural and lower income urban areas." That's not really a reason to reimburse midlevels and physicians equally though...if midlevels can make the same as physicians, why would they bother flocking to underserved areas when they can set up a hip and trendy IV hydration medspa in Seattle? Not to mention, if midlevels and physicians are to be reimbursed the same, why would anyone hire a midlevel over a physician? There's a reason why the store brand is priced less than the name brand!
Apparently, some people even had the gall to suggest that having different reimbursement structures for midlevels and physicians was discriminatory. According to Brad Tower, a spokesperson for the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, "You necessarily have a discriminatory action on your hands when you give a blanket 85% pay to one group over another." Uhh, what? Companies don't pay regular employees as much as managers. The lower-level employee with less training and education isn't going to be making as much as the CEO. These are basic facts and common sense...leave it to a naturopath to try and make an issue out of it, I guess. But I digress.
All in all, the passage of this bill would only serve to hurt patients, especially if they don't realize they're getting charged the same to see a midlevel, non-physician practitioner who is legally held to a lower standard of care.