On Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, the Oregon House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass Senate Bill 1503 B (SB 1503 B) to continue Oregon’s nurse practitioner payment parity law. Oregon’s nurse practitioner payment parity law is the first law in the country to require private insurance companies to reimburse primary care and mental health nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and physicians at the same rates when they perform the same services. Without legislative action, the law would have expired in 2017.
“Oregon’s NP payment parity law gives patients better access to the critical primary care and mental health services nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide,” said Madeleine Simmons, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and small business owner in Bend, OR. “Upholding the law helps providers continue treating underserved populations and improving our clinics to meet local patients’ needs.”
After successfully passing House and Oregon Senate votes this month, SB 1503 B will now head to Governor Kate Brown to be signed into law. The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) and Nurse Practitioners of Oregon (NPO) worked with the Legislature to draft SB 1503 B as well as the original NP payment parity legislation in 2013.
The original bill became necessary after one of Oregon’s largest private insurance companies arbitrarily cut reimbursement rates to non-physician health care providers; seriously limiting Oregonians’ access to care, particularly in communities where NPs and PAs are the only health care providers.
“Oregon’s historic payment parity law not only ensures fair and equitable treatment of providers and greater access to primary and mental health care for Oregonians, it also aligns nicely with Oregon’s health care transformation efforts and our move toward community based care,” Said Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham. “I’m incredibly proud of this important policy and hope other states will follow Oregon’s lead.”
ONA and NPO have a long history of leadership on issues affecting patients and advanced practice nurses. Since 1979, Oregon NPs have practiced independently, without the supervision of a physician, and have consistently championed Oregonians’ right to access high-quality health care.
“Oregonians are increasingly relying on nurse practitioners and physician assistants to meet their primary care and mental health needs.” said James Sims, a primary care nurse practitioner and Chair of NPO. “This law acknowledges the important role Oregon’s NPs and PAs have to help all patients get the care they deserve.”