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Get the Facts About AB 852

Support AB 852 to Allow California to Fully Utilize Nurse Practitioners and Close the Provider Gap

Clarifying existing law (AB 890) to ensure that nurse practitioners are recognized as independent providers will help close the provider gap and reduce health disparities.

In 2020, California took steps to close its provider gap when AB 890 passed with overwhelming, bipartisan legislative support and was signed into law by the Governor.

Prior to AB 890, California nurse practitioners (NPs) were unable to practice without a physician present or on-call. The removal of this restriction was consistently cited by independent experts an important strategy to ensure that California patients have access to health care and to address health disparities in our underserved communities. AB 890 updated the Nursing Practice Act (in the state Business & Professions Code) to allow NPs who meet specific criteria to practice without physician supervision.

The policy change established by AB 890 requires additional clarifying language in other sections of California law to ensure that NPs are fully recognized as independent providers. AB 852 (Wood) would update the other sections of California law, which govern health care providers, to also include nurse practitioners. Specifically, AB 852:

  • Amends the Clinic Laboratory Technology Act to include nurse practitioners in the list of who can perform provider-performed microscopy, which are a specified list of on-site tests health care providers can perform during a patient’s visit;
  • Ensures that NPs are included in the list of providers that are allowed to provide prescriptions and dispense controlled substances;
  • Adds NP offices to the list of places where respiratory care services may be provided and
  • Includes NPs in the group of health care professionals whose records are protected from legal discovery.

Clarifying that NPs are included in these existing laws is critical to ensuring that NPs can practice to the full extent of their education and training to help close the provider gap in California.

  • In just 10 years, California will face a shortage of 4,100 primary care clinicians and will have only two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs. These shortages threaten California’s health care goals regarding coverage and access for underserved populations and Medi-Cal expansion.
  • In 2020, AB 890 was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in response to this widening gap in access to health care providers, particularly in some of California’s fastest-growing and most vulnerable regions.
  • Expanding access to nurse practitioners only helps us close the provider gap if all appropriate California code sections are updated to ensure that qualified NPs are authorized to work without physician supervision. AB 852 is a critical step to ensuring that AB 890 is implemented as intended by the Legislature and Governor.

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