LANSING, Mich. (April 20, 2023) — Sen. Jeff Irwin (DAnn Arbor) today announced Senate Bill 279 to help alleviate Michigan’s health care provider shortages by removing unnecessary rules that prevent nurse practitioners from using the full extent of their graduate education, clinical training and national certifications to care for patients. Forty years of research shows that enabling Full Practice Authority (FPA) for nurse practitioners within their areas of expertise safely increases patients’ access to quality health care and helps control costs. 


“It’s time for Michigan to eliminate the outdated requirement that nurse practitioners must have a contract with a supervising physician,” Sen. Irwin said. “We have a serious and growing shortage of health care professionals in Michigan, which makes it very difficult to access primary care in many areas of the state, both urban and rural. Full Practice Authority for nurse practitioners will make Michigan more competitive with other states and help close the health care gaps we are seeing across the state.” 


Senate Bill 279 removes the state mandate for nurse practitioners to contract with a supervising physician in order to serve patients. If the legislation is approved and signed into law, Michigan will join 27 other states that allow FPA and bring Michigan in line with current state Board of Nursing rules and national education and practice standards for nurse practitioners. 


Sen. Irwin was joined at a Capitol press conference this morning by his colleague and bill co-sponsor, Sen. Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), representatives of the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners and other health care advocates. 


“In my mostly rural Senate district, access to primary care can be very challenging,” said Sen. Outman. “Not enough physicians are choosing to provide primary care, which leaves small towns across the state with a shortage of health care providers. By removing barriers to practice for nurse practitioners, we can help alleviate that shortage while ensuring quality care for patients.” 


Dr. Michael Weiner, chief medical officer for MSU Health Care notes that his experience as a physician working with nurse practitioners validates the argument that mandatory supervision rules are not needed in Michigan. “Nurse practitioners are exceptionally well qualified to practice independently in their areas of expertise,” he said. “Even with the ability to serve patients autonomously, nurse practitioners will remain a vital part of collaborative health care teams in hospital and clinical settings here at MSU and across the state.” 


Denise Soltow Hershey, past president and current legislative chair for the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners, noted that mandatory supervision increases the cost of health care in Michigan and does nothing to ensure that nurse practitioners are providing quality health care services. “Many nurse practitioners have never met their supervising physician, nor have any of the NP’s patients. It’s time to bring Michigan in line with 27 other states, the District of Columbia and the federal VA hospital system by authorizing FPA for nurse practitioners.” 


Melissa Seifert, associate state director for AARP Michigan, said Full Practice Authority for nurse practitioners will reduce bureaucratic barriers that drive up the cost of health care and make Michigan’s health care systems more accessible, efficient and resilient. “The COVID pandemic put a tremendous strain on our health care systems, from which they have yet to fully recover,” Seifert said. “A top priority for our 1.3 million AARP Michigan members is access to quality and affordable healthcare and that is why we are supporting this important issue.” 


Griff Drew, advocacy program manager for the Michigan Primary Care Association, also voiced his organization’s support for FPA for nurse practitioners. “MPCA represents Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) across the state, which provide affordable, community-based primary care and mental health services to patients in underserved areas. We simply could not operate without nurse practitioners delivering direct patient care,” he said. “FPA for nurse practitioners will help us attract and retain the staff we need to continue providing quality health care to the Michigan residents we serve every day.” 


Dr. Bridget Leonard, president of the American Nurses Association – Michigan, noted that nurse practitioners are more likely to work in underserved areas of Michigan where access to primary health care is limited. “Michigan’s restrictive practice environment for NPs is holding us back from filling those gaps,” she said. “Let nurse practitioners do the job they are trained to do as health care professionals.” 


Additional organizations supporting FPA for nurse practitioners include the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, Authority Health, Michigan Association of Health Plans, Hope Network, Michigan Disability Rights Council, Michigan Nurses Association, the Coalition of Nursing Organizations in Michigan (COMON), and others. 


Senate Bill 279 was introduced Wednesday with bipartisan cosponsorship and is expected to be referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee today.