Nurse practitioners have been lobbying lawmakers for independence for nearly a decade, and they won the battle with a bill adopted in this year's state budget. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Manhattan House Calls, a nurse practitioner-run practice headed by Denis Tarrant, serves about 530 patients.
Tarrant treats Gloria Arcario in her home monthly, saving her the pain of traveling so frequently.
"I have a bad blood flow in this one leg," Arcario says.
"We're trained to prescribe, diagnose and treat patients," Tarrant says. "Very similar to that of an internist."
In order to continuing serving Arcario and others, state law requires that Tarrant and his colleagues have a written practice agreement with a physician.
"I employ seven people," Tarrant says. "These are jobs that would be gone through no fault of my own if that collaborator were to lose their license or pass away."
It's a worry that will soon go away with the recent adoption of the Nurse Practitioner Modernization Act in the state budget.
Starting January 1, NPs with more than 3,600 practice hours will no longer need to be tethered to a doctor to treat patients.
"With the increasing need for health care in New York State and the decreasing amount of providers that we have to provide that type of care, there had to be some alternative," Tarrant says.
Saddled with steep medical school debts, fewer and fewer physicians are entering the less lucrative field of primary care just as millions of Americans are finally getting access to health insurance.
Tarrant is also president of the Nurse Practitioners Association of New York State, which has been lobbying for the change for about eight years, fighting against physician groups who argued that it would allow NPs to work in a silo, threatening patient safety.
Tarrant says the law does take that into account.
"You need to maintain documentations that you collaborate with other providers, other doctors, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, which is no different than what we do now," he says.
However, nurse practitioners with less than 3,600 practice hours will still need a written practice agreement with a physician before they can go independent.
"We really feel there's a lot of value in clinical hours and experience," Tarrant says.
Tarrant says his practice will see about $10,000 in annual savings no longer having to pay that to a collaborating physician, and also, a little less stress.