NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Obamacare Chooses Winners and Losers

June 3, 2015

Obamacare has created unintended winners and losers, and two of the big winners are nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). Both will get to do more and make more in the new health care landscape.

In urban areas, patients may visit with the NP or PA first before seeing the doctor, and in some cases, an NP or PA may be their only care provider. In rural areas, an NP or PA may be the only provider available for miles.

NPs and PAs have long wanted to take on a more responsibilities, both in delivering primary care and even some specialty care. Obamacare is greatly accelerating that trend.

There are several reasons for this transition, including:

  • Efforts to reduce the cost of care are squeezing physicians' fees, so many are turning more responsibilities over to NPs and PAS.
  • Obamacare expanded the number of people with health coverage and especially Medicaid.
  • The country is facing a shortage of doctors and Obamacare is exacerbating the problem. Many doctors getting close to retirement are fed up with the new regulations created by the legislation and are therefore retiring early.

States are facilitating that transition. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 20 states have adopted and eight more are considering laws allowing nurses with advanced degrees to practice in several medical areas without a doctor overseeing the care.

In addition, NPs and PAs make good money. The mean hourly wage for PAs in 2014 was $46.77, or $97,280 a year. And slightly higher for NPs, $47.11 per hour, or $97,990 per year. NPs and PAs are going to be big winners under Obamacare. Let us just make sure that patients and quality of care are not the losers.

Source: Merrill Matthews, "Obamacare's Problems are Making Nurses and PAs the Big Winners in Health Care Reform," Institute for Policy Innovation, May 29, 2015. 

 

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