The Virginia Legislature is Dismantling Physician-Led, Team-Based Care
Right now, the Virginia legislature is in session—a short period of lawmaking that will run through early March. Instead of strengthening protections for patients, they’re expanding autonomous practice for nurse practitioners (NPs). Here’s what’s happening:
Last year, in 2021, Virginia legislators allowed nurse practitioners to practice medicine without a practice agreement with a doctor. This rule was set to expire after two years. Now, with House Bill 1245, the legislature is considering eliminating the expiration and making this permanent. The House of Delegates passed it last week by a vote of 84 to 13. Lawmakers of both parties voted to pass it. Under this bill, a nurse practitioner would need only two years of full-time experience to begin operating autonomously, without physician supervision. Previously, five years of experience was required. This bill is now being considered by the Virginia Senate.
While training requirements are being decreased for NPs, House Bill 243 seeks to increase postgraduate training for MDs and DOs from 12 to 36 months. It also requires physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance while removing the same requirement for NP’s in the bill outlined below, HB 896. BH 243 is currently tabled in a House committee. But it could come back to harm the entire state.
A proposal, House Bill 896, essentially removes physicians from the patient care team by allowing NPs to be entirely responsible for the supervision, clinical guidance and consultation for other NPs. Collaborative practice agreements are deteriorating, and NPs with 2 years of experience will be allowed by Virginia to operate autonomously. This bill is still in the House and may not move forward, especially if physicians communicate with reasonable facts regarding these proposals.
Nurse practitioners in Virginia have politically mobilized to support these bills. Across the commonwealth, they’re actively contacting their elected state representatives, pushing these bills toward the finish line. Legislation moves rapidly in Virginia during its short annual legislative session. Time is of the essence. We need to help the Virginia Senate understand what’s at stake.
There’s no time to waste.
We encourage Virginia Physicians to contact your state senators today and share your thoughts on these bills. HB 1245 is nearing passage and is under consideration in the Senate.
Virginia Physicians: contact your state senators today and tell them why these bills will harm patients. In particular, we must stop HB 1245, which is nearing passage and is under consideration in the Senate. This is our most urgent priority.